It has been reported that a Swiss court has ordered the food store chain Lidl to stop selling its golden-wrapped chocolate bunnies and destroy its stocks of this item.
Lidl had been sued by a rival chocolate manufacturer, Lindt & Sprungli, for violating its trademark on a similar product. Although there were some differences between the two brands, opinion polls showed that customers had difficulty distinguishing them.
Lidl operates over 11,000 stores in Europe and the United States, so the amount of chocolate that has to be destroyed must be substantial.
Why is Lidl not allowed to give the chocolate away instead of destroying it? Although that would not profit Lidl directly, Lidl might get some favorable publicity. The free distribution would reduce demand for chocolate bunnies from Lindt and might induce more people to shop at Lidl stores.
Fashion is another industry where ‘excess stock’ is often destroyed. Luxury goods need to be sold before they go out of fashion. When that happens it is necessary to get rid of any that remain to make room for new models. Destruction is usually cheaper than recycling. Drastic price cuts are avoided because profit maximization depends on maintaining the scarcity value of luxury brands. Large-scale free distribution would cause the same problem. (See: Rachel Cernansky, Vogue Business, October 18, 2021 – here.)
In a socialist society there would be no trademarks or competing brands of the same product. Things would be made to last. This would make it easier to foresee likely demand and halt production before excess stock accumulates.
These are just a couple of examples of how capitalist property relations lead to destruction of useful things, wasting human labor at the same time as human needs go unmet. For other examples see: :
Waste and Want: Grapes of Wrath Revisited
A Starvation Society
The Problem of Food Waste
Patents: Capitalism versus Technological Advance
Why the Shortage of Medical Supplies?
Nonprofit Production: Wave of the Future?