Monday, June 11, 2018

Cost Cutting On Sugar, Paper Napkins, Liquid Soap...

Cutting corners is best surmised as: To do something in the easiest or least expensive way. For example, ‘cutting corners in production led to a definite loss in production quality’ or if Accountant cut corners, Auditor is sure to find out.

Back in the 70s when Idi Amin was still at the helm of this once great country of ours, there was an economic crisis. Fuel was scarce while most supermarket shelves were devoid of the most basic and essential commodities like sugar, soap, salt and cooking oil. 

Cooking Oil - A Scarce Commodity During The Amin Era

This of course, necessitated the need for people to cut corners – to stretch out everything from fuel to sugar. If memory serves me correct, Mum came up with a most ingenious way to save sugar. Rather than letting my siblings and I rip with the sugar bowl at the breakfast table, the sugar was pre-mixed into the teapot whilst still in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, when Visitor turned up and tea was served, the sugar container was never filled to the brim as used to happen when times were good. Rather whilst still in the kitchen, House Help would measure out four teaspoons of sugar into the bowl. This of course limited Visitor to a maximum of two cups of tea.

However, I did find out later on that there was another and more pertinent purpose as to why Mum pulled that stunt. You see, she couldn’t work out why the sugar bowl always went back empty to the kitchen – yet, it was full to the brim when it went out and Visitor only had one cup of tea. There is a need to tell you that when no one was looking, Visitor would empty the sugar bowl into the plastic bag they had come with and go off home with it.

Sugar - Visitors Pilfered It 

That ought to give you an impression of just how severe the economic crisis of the 70s was – that when people went to visit, it was not in the actual sense of the word but essentially, to ‘pilfer’.

While today the supermarket shelves are fully stocked, cutting corners still remains that essential part of the Ugandan way of life. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Paper Napkins

In the factory, to produce a quality serviette, the makers fold each sheet into half, then into quarters in that each napkin is made up of 4 quarters. They figured four quarters are sufficient for one to wipe their hands and mouth after eating. However, the average owner of a restaurant in Uganda does not think so. They see it as wastage and came to the realisation that out of each factory packed serviette, they could re-cut each quarter and get four other serviettes – four other flimsy serviettes that hardly do the job that the makers had intended.
Napkins - They Stretch Further

Bar and Liquid Soap

The makers of bar soap came up with the novel idea of putting six dividers in each bar of soap in that when cut each bar, you would get six sizeable tablets that can do the job required of them. But as you have already guessed, somebody out there had a Eureka(!) moment. After cutting each bar into six tablets, they cut them again and again and again and managed to eek out close to ten miniature tablets. Meanwhile in just about every restaurant, what does Restaurant Owner do as soon as they buy a container of liquid soap? They set about to dilute it with water so it stretches for months.

Liquid Soap - Always Gets Diluted

Diluted Milk

Everybody is at it. Farmer dilutes the milk before he sells it off to Local Village Wholesaler. Local Village Wholesaler dilutes it further before fobbing it to Shop Keeper. Shop Keeper takes it further before flogging it to Restaurant Owner while Restaurant Owner tells Waitress to dilute it even further before serving you the most diluted milk to go with your tea.   

Tea Bags

When the people at Mukwano Industries make tea bags, the fill each bag with enough tea leaves to brew one cup of tea. But to in a cost cutting effort, tea bags are often recycled - not just once, but twice and often four times.

Tea Bags - One Tea Bag Gets Used Multiple Times 


Tin Of Beans

Bean Seller at Namawojolo never has a tin with straight sides or bottom. The sides of the tin are always battered inwards to cut corners – in that he doesn’t actually sell you a full tin.        
     
Its Never A Full Tin Of Beans

Disposable Glasses

The concept that the makers of disposable glasses had in mind it that once used, they get thrown away. Except in some places, the disposables are washed and stacked up on the shelf to be used the following day.



Pictures: ecco ver, Ikea.com, Standard Media

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