Could competition improve food quality?

By on March 14, 2013

By Noor Yussuf —

If you live on campus you are required to have the mandatory meal plan and that means you have to eat from the list of restaurants provided to you by Sodexo. The list comes with only one pizza option and that’s Papa John’s. Let me start by saying that I do love Papa John’s Pizza and will not select Dominos Pizza over it, but that doesn’t apply to the one on campus.  The Papa John’s on campus isn’t as a great as any Papa John’s around town, the service here is terrible and the pizza is awful. Let me explain what I mean by that.

The problem with the service is that whenever you order pizza at Papa John’s, generally there’s a good chance that a problem will happen to your order. You receive a wrong order, your order is lost and you have to call back or your meal plan is being charged twice.

The food quality is awful, as some of my friends will call it “addictive disgusting” or “very unhealthy.” The pizza is very greasy and the grease is sometimes all over the box.

The problem here is that Papa John’s has no incentive and concern for competition since they are the only pizza business on campus and as long as you live on campus and have the meal plan, you’ll have to order pizza from them if you want to use the meal plan you’ve already paid for.

Let me make use of what I have learned in economic classes. I am sure my economics professors will be proud of me for applying my knowledge here, and I am glad my tuition wasn’t wasted.

In economics, the Papa John’s situation is called “monopoly” and it exists when a “specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity.” Here, Papa John’s has the perfect monopoly since it’s the only place you can use with the meal plan.

Monopoly is characterized by lack of incentives because Papa John’s has full control of the market. There’s no incentive or concerns for them to improve their service or the quality of their pizza. Either way, you’ll have to buy from them if you want to use the meal plan.

The other problem with monopoly is that the lack of competition. Papa John’s dominates the campus market and other pizza businesses can’t compete with them since they don’t have a fair market competition. Since this school year, two locally owned pizza franchises, Papalino’s and Bearno’s, closed their locations on campus because they couldn’t compete with Papa John’s who has control of the market.

The problem then is that first, we are discouraging competition, and second, we are killing local businesses by making it tough for them to compete with Papa John’s.

It’s us, the students, who are suffering when this happens and I believe we have had enough. Now is the time for Sodexo to either improve the quality of the on campus Papa John’s pizza or open the doors for other pizza businesses by letting us use our meal plan with other places and let the competition start by breaking up the monopoly.

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Photos: Tyler Mercer/Louisville Cardinal

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