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How To Save Money This Christmas On Supermarket Grocery Shopping and Reduce Food Wastage

Jo has been an ITU nurse at the London North West NHS Trust for 14 years. She obtained her RN at University College London Hospital.

Save money on you grocery bills

Save money on you grocery bills

Reduce food wastage and save money

Reduce Waste and Save on Shopping bill

Yes, folks, it's that time of the year again, the bank balance is bracing itself for the bashing of the year. But many of us will be looking for ways to save money and still have a jolly, merry Christmas.

As we plan our Christmas shopping, the last thing we want to be thinking about is budgeting, but although the economy is recovering, it is still sluggish and may take some time before we see an improvement in real terms. Never-the-less; it is Christmas and a time for celebration.

Before we collect our environmentally friendly shopping bags to brave the long queues at the grocery store, there are some things we should reflect on.

Food Wastage

According to Wrap, the government anti-wasteagency, set up in 2000 to help with recycling in the UK, the average British household wastes the equivalent of six meals every week, a massive 4.2 million tonnes of edible food. We are wasting £12.5 billion a year, around £60 a month per average household.

Research shows, 40% of food in the US goes uneaten. Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion per year on uneaten food which ends up rotting in landfill sites, while 13.1% of the world's population, 925 million people goes hungry. We are throwing money down the drain.

We can all do something to help reduce the waste, and by doing so, save money. How do we do it? Simply by changing the way we shop.

The average wage still lags behind the cost of living; most people are actively searching for ways to save money and spend less, managing our grocery shopping is a good place to start. But before we head out to the supermarkets, there are just a few things we should be aware of to keep as much of our hard-earned cash as possible firmly in our pockets.

Let's face it; supermarkets are there for one thing, and one thing only, they are in the business of making money. They must find ways to separate us from our cash, and they do this very effectively by using certain strategies.

Those of us of a certain age can still remember a time before the megastores moved into every neighbourhood; they made shopping convenient for us, and pretty soon we couldn't figure out how we ever managed without them.

Little by little, all the quaint little shops were forced to close down. The butcher, the baker, the fishmongers, the man who sold fruits and vegetables down the road, have all gone. Some things we gained, some we lost, but we cannot dispute the fact that supermarkets help us to simplify our lives, love them or hate them, they are here to stay.

However; what we did not bargain for, was that they would declare psychological warfare on our pockets. They make us spend far more money than we need or intended to part with, thereby, causing us to waste food by the tonnes while some of the world's population continue to go hungry. So how do they do that? I hear you ask. The answer is simple; they study us like bugs under a petri dish.


Supermarket Psychology Research used to make us spend more money

Supermarkets do a tremendous amount of research and psychological study to know everything they can about the taste, habits, and needs of their customers, in short, they know what makes us tick, what makes us spend. They invest lots of time and money finding ways to get us to buy products we do not necessarily need or want.

Based on the result of a psychology study, supermarkets can and do influence shoppers behaviour. Consumers are exploited even when they believe they are in total control; we are made to spend more money as we're expertly steered through stores by bribes and trickery

According to the statistics, an average family will spend between 20% to 25% of its income on grocery shopping. No doubt about it, supermarkets get us, but do we get them?

They study our habits, they know what we buy on a regular basis, the healthy and the not so healthy stuff we place in our oversized carts and trolleys. They then use the information to target us with vouchers and various offers on the foods we often buy, this encourages us to buy more because we believe we are getting a bargain.

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Plans for the future include TV ads tailored for each shopper, based on what they buy from the supermarket, yes; big brother is in our shopping trolley. Whether you are part of a loyalty scheme, use cash or pay by card, supermarkets make it their business to know their customer's every move.

Supermarkets Tricks

Shoppers beware, long before you enter the store, you are being manipulated. They use colours to condition us; we see red and yellow, we think discount!! They draw us in with sight and smell; fresh fruits are sprayed with water mist to give the illusion of freshness. Flowers and plants welcome us at the entrance of the grocery store.

We are led by the nose as tempting whiffs of warm bread drifts towards us. If you're already feeling the slightest bit peckish, you'll be shopping as if to feed the multitude, but sadly most of the excess food will be binned, creating more wasted food and money.

Never shop on an empty stomach.

The baked goods are strategically positioned to assault the salivary glands and force impulse buying. Essentials like milk, cheese, and eggs are placed where customers must move through the store to find them. Even our natural preference to favour our right side is manipulated.

Some supermarkets are designed to make us move from right to left; the most expensive items are seductively places on the right-hand aisles where we are more inclined to make a purchase, once again we are spending our money on things we did not know we needed.

Subliminal suggestions are often used by supermarkets to make shoppers spend more money than they'd planned. Grocery stores often pair foodstuff; don't forget the crackers to go with that Stilton. I see you fancy some of our apple pie. How about some cream to go with that? Before you know it, your oversize shopping trolley is full of stuff you did not know you wanted.

And if you should miss something, it will be conveniently waiting for you at the end of each aisle. In a hurry, we're much more likely to go for what appears to be a bargain, but beware; supermarkets do not place the cheaper options at the end of the aisles.

White background for meat and fish, red-painted walls to make us stay longer in the stores, wooden shelves, beautiful lighting are all visual cues used by supermarkets to give the impression of quality to entice us to spend more money.

They use music to influence us, research from Leicester University found that slow music makes us linger longer, classical music makes us spend more and French music in the wine aisles helps to sell more French wines while German folk music resulted in a massive increase in the sale of German wines.

Expensive items are placed at eye level (1.6m from the ground) products that are aimed at children are placed at their eye level while the cheapest buys are hidden at the bottom of the shelves where we are less likely to look for them. The higher and lower shelves are where you'll find the best deals and the store's own brands

Have you ever wondered why everyday items such as socks and deodorants are often placed next to the till? These are 'impulse buys', things we think we will need, even though we did not plan to buy them. We're tempted at the till with an array of special offers, magazines to browse while we wait, yummy treats like sweets, gums and chocolates, out friendly supermarket take full advantage of 'pester power' from bored, tired and peckish children.


Where is your water bottled?


Use A Water Filter

. A filter can remove heavy metals and other impurities, such as lead and aluminium. Despite the fact that aluminium has been implicated in the cause of Alzheimer's and brain disease, it is still added to tap water.

. A filter can remove heavy metals and other impurities, such as lead and aluminium. Despite the fact that aluminium has been implicated in the cause of Alzheimer's and brain disease, it is still added to tap water.

Buy only what you need

Buy only what you need by keeping tract on your stock and making a grocery list.

Buy only what you need by keeping tract on your stock and making a grocery list.

Supermarket Tricks and Scams to watch out for

Supermarket Tricks and Scams

Supermarkets monitor consumer's buying behaviour, that's a fact of life in the 21st century, but then there are the damn right cons.

According to an article in the Mail in August 2012, Tesco and Asda were found to be selling bottled tap water to millions of unsuspecting customers. What appears to be good value was actually tap water marked up 2,500 percent.

Beware of supermarket scams dressed up as special offers. The consumer magazine, Which, found that some supermarkets more than doubled the price of certain items just before placing them as multi-buy offers. Which also discovered that many items were sold as 'on offer' at a reduced price for longer than they have been sold at the real price, tricking us into thinking we are getting a good deal and buying more than we would usually purchase, believing the offer will run out soon.

Save money on your grocery shopping

So now we know some of the tricks and scams our supermarkets use to get us to spend more money in their stores, what can we do about it?

  • Budgeting wisely allows us to spend only what we can afford to pay when we budget we shop within our means.
  • Plan your shopping.
  • Where possible, get your fresh produce from a farmers market.
  • Check your stock, know what you already have in the cupboard before shopping.
  • Make a healthy food shopping list.
  • Use a water filter and don't get conned by supermarket tricks.
  • Avoid the large carts and trolleys unless you really need one.
  • Prevent impulse buying by leaving the credit card at home and use cash instead. Research shows, we find it harder to part with cash than we do with the numbers on our credit card statement. When we allow ourselves a limited amount of money to spend on grocery shopping, we are less likely to be tempted.
  • Read the labels, know what you're buying.
  • Use a headset, listen to your own music, this can help to remove yourself from sensory stimuli, set your own pace.
  • Where possible leave the children at home, this will reduce distraction buying, so you don't miss the best values.
  • Do not be seduced by special offers you are not likely to make use of, and watch out for multibuy scams.
  • Compare prices.
  • Check special deals carefully to see if they are cost-effective before buying.
  • Try supermarket's brand, do a taste test see if you can tell the difference. Brand names are often more expensive, and on many items, there is little or no difference.
  • Save money online grocery shopping; buy just what you need when you order your grocery online. There are fewer distractions, temptation, and impulse buying. Some supermarkets like Waitrose offers free delivery when you spend a minimum of £50 per shop. Look at store delivery saver schemes. There are tips to cover the delivery fees such as, signing up for email, and joining loyalty schemes. Let the store entice you with their discount codes; this may be sufficient to cover the delivery fee.
  • Do not pay your grocery bill in installments; this does not make your shopping any cheaper, it simply takes longer to pay off. Be on your guard at the till; don't be tempted unless there is something you genuinely need.
  • Complain, if you are less than satisfied with your shopping or delivery. Most customer service managers will want you to keep using their services and may be prepared to replace damaged products or items that are too close to the sell-by date; they may refund your money or give you a credit note towards your next purchase.

  • Beware of sale-like signs for sale products; the reduction can be minimal while cheaper equivalents are hidden. In February 2012, Which checked the prices of 700,000 items on sale at five of the UK's biggest supermarkets, they found that some special offers were actually more expensive than items on sale.
  • Compare the cost of your shopping trolley at the online supermarket with sites like MySupermarket
  • Know the difference between sell-by date, display until the date, and best before date. Don't waste food that is perfectly edible.
  • Check your refrigerator temperature, the colder the temperature, the slower the bacterial growth. The temperature should be cold enough to reduce germ growth without freezing. The ideal fridge temperature should be around 1 to 5 degrees Centigrade, But the cold temperature will not stop the growth completely. The Ideal freezer temperature is -18 degrees Centigrade.

Why make a grocery shopping list?

Making a grocery shopping list can save time and money, with a list, we can be more organized and disciplined; we buy just what is on the list, we get in and out, not allowing ourselves to be sidetracked into spending more money than we intended.

A healthy grocery shopping list helps us think and evaluate the type of foods we buy, taking into consideration all the health implications.

Shopping is proven to be less stressful when we use a shopping list. When we use a list, we reduce waste because we are purchasing only the items we actually need.

The good news is that in the current economic climate more of us are responding by embracing a sense of frugality, we are careful with our household spending, more of us are returning to the old fashion grocery list.

Shop smart and have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.


Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on January 05, 2014:

Hi Ryem, so nice to to see you! Glad you found this useful, a list is a good start.

A Happy New Year to you. :)

Ryem from Maryland on January 05, 2014:

Hey Jo! This is an excellent hub. I thought I was doing well just by making a grocery list, but you have taught me a lot more. I'll be more aware next time I'm out food shopping.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 31, 2013:

Hi Alicia, I'm glad you found this hub useful, we have to start looking at food wastage as throwing away money. It is surprising how much we could save when we put some thought into it.

Thank you for stopping by, my best to you and a Happy New year!!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 30, 2013:

This is a very useful and informative hub! Thanks for sharing the interesting information and the hints to help us stick to a budget when shopping. Thank you also for sharing the information about food wastage. The numbers are very sad, considering the number of people that go hungry.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 17, 2013:

Electronician, I so know that feeling! :) thank you for taking a look, much appreciated, go easy on those chocolates. My very best to you.

Dean Walsh from Birmingham, England on December 17, 2013:

For me you said it all when you mentioned 'impulse buys' - the main thing I need to do to spend less is to stop stuffing my face with chocolate every time I get home from the shops. I don't seem to be able to go into a shop without buying chocolate.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 15, 2013:

quildon, lovely to see you! I guess the lefties are relatively safe, but I'm sure they would have thought of other ways to catch them out. :) Thank you for stopping by, I'm glad you found this useful.

Take care and my best to you.

Angela Joseph from Florida on December 15, 2013:

You have taught me a thing or two about the way supermarkets dupe us. I'll be more careful when I turn to the right from now on. But seriously, necessity has taught me to resist impulse buying even though I don't always make a list. Voted up and useful. Merry Christmas!

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 15, 2013:

Hi Torrilynn, it's easy to become overwhelmed when we're surrounded by so many choices, we must balance the head, the eyes and the stomach. :)

It's always a pleasure, thank you for stopping by, have a great Christmas and my very best to you.

torrilynn on December 14, 2013:

Thanks for the great advice. I really like the tips of having a water filter and only buying what you need. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomach! Best of Wishes. Happy Holidays ! Up and Useful.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 14, 2013:

Devika, I'm so glad you found this helpful, thank you for stopping by, it's always a pleasure to see you. Have a wonderful weekend and my best to you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 14, 2013:

How to Save money On Supermarket Grocery Shopping and Reduce Food Wastage is such an interesting hub. A well-advised hub with valuable points. Since living in Croatia I find the cost of living very high and you taught me something new here.Voted up, and useful

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 14, 2013:

Hi Faith, I responded to your kind comment last night from my ipad during my break at work, but I've just noticed that there are comments missing, so I do apologize, the ipad is great, but there are places where the signal can be weak. Thank you again for your wonderful support it means a lot. Watch out for those supermarket's tricks as you get your Christmas supplies in, take care and my very best as always.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 14, 2013:

Hi Wetnose, A very wise woman, your mother....looks like she knew a thing or two about shopping for food. Shopping, especially this time of the year can be a bit like running the gauntlet so I can understand why you avoid the rush. Thank you for taking a look, much appreciated and my best as always.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on December 14, 2013:

My mother taught me long ago don't go shopping when you are hungry. She would get so mad at herself when she did cause of course, she always bought more. So I always keep that in mind.

I dislike any kind of shopping anyway and try to go early in the a.m. so I can get what I need (and I load up on my junk food, I'm afraid -LOL). I can be the worlds worst shopper.

Great hub.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 14, 2013:

Hi Jainismus, a pleasure to see you, I appreciated the visit and comment, thank you and my best as always.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 14, 2013:

Hi Frank, good to know this helps, we all live busy lives, not enough time to stop and think before we spend, that makes it easy to fall for the tricks. Thank you for checking this out, always appreciated. Have a wonderful weekend and my best to you.

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on December 13, 2013:

Great Hub, very useful for everybody.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on December 13, 2013:

toobusiness this was very helpful esp. for guys I never ( before ) used a coupon, sales, I ignored.. and you're right I see flash yellows and reds and my mind does think good buys.. this was indeed helpful.. good looking out :) Frank

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hi Jackie, what a wonderful way to recycle, you feed the chucks with your leftovers and they pay you with eggs, perfect.:) Are they really that expensive to keep? My husband wants to get a few but I'm not to sure about it.

I know what you mean about those freshly baked bread, gets us every time.

Thank you so much for stopping by, always a pleasure, take care and my best to you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hello JayeWisdom, wouldn't it be something if we could all grow our own fruits and vegetables? Organic food is great but so very expensive, maybe one day they'll wake up to the truth, about the damages done by the use of pesticide not only to us, but the whole food chain. You seem to be very aware and doing all the right things. Thank you for this terrific, insightful and informative comment, it's very much appreciated, take care and my best to you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hi Audrey, thank you for taking a look, it's much appreciated and I'm glad you found the information useful. Take care and my best to you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Flourish, I think you are already ahead of the game. I like the idea of 'put 3 things back', the only problem for me would be deciding what to put back. :)

Thank you so much for the visit and great comment, my best to you as always.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hi Bill, I saw your comment earlier but I was heading off to work, sorry it took so long, I've only just managed to take a break. Someone aught to do a study about why women appears to be more susceptible to impulse buying than men, I think we should let the men do the grocery shopping, just remember to feed them first. :)

Bill, thanks for stopping by, it is always a pleasure. I'll be over later to read about a chicken by the name of Zorro. My best as always.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on December 13, 2013:

Hi Jo,

Excellent hub here full of useful information on how to not waste food and save money! I am terrible when I go hungry for sure. You are so right, they do have tricks right there when you are ready to check out, and you do not even need the items ... that is what is so bad about it. I think the best thing is, as you state, to check what you have before you go shopping, and make a list and stick to it!

Up and more and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 13, 2013:

Well I have chickens now so in a way scraps become eggs, lol. Secretly though having chickens for eggs as far as value is a bad idea for they cost sooo much. But it is fun. You have some great ideas. I resist temptation pretty good but those good smells always make me hungry no matter if I just ate. I think it is smelling someones cooling besides mine! lol ^

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on December 13, 2013:

Hi Jo. Thank goodness for your tips at the end of your hub. It's mindboggling to think of the percentage of food that is wasted, together with the shameful waste of money. We have food banks and soup kitchens in the USA and the UK. This has to change somehow.

voted up and all.


Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on December 13, 2013:

I do without other things so I can buy only organic foods. I believe that strongly that "we are what we eat" and only wish I'd known the harm caused by pesticides and other toxins long before I did.

That said, I am careful with my shopping dollars, watching for the (very few) sales on organic foods. Since my local supermarket insists on a watering system in the produce department that does not mist, but is more like a downpour, organic veggies and fruits can rot in a hurry. When I get them home, I place them on several thicknesses of paper toweling and blot them dry with several more thicknesses before putting them in the refrigerator crisper drawers (all except onions and potatoes, which go in a dark bin).

Dark greens, such as kale and collards, as well as salad greens, spoil quickly anyway, so I never buy more than I will use in a few days time. When veggies begin to get that droopy look, I use them to make a bit pot of veg soup or stew.

That's the downside of not wasting produce--the necessity to go shopping more frequently. I don't like the shopping, but think the result is worth it. When I was young, I didn't think too much about waste. Now I do everything I can to prevent wasting anything.


Audrey Howitt from California on December 13, 2013:

Such a useful article, especially this time of year!

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 13, 2013:

Good tips, Jo. I try to eat before I go and shop with a list. It's also helpful to play "put 3 things back" before you hit the check-out lines so you question whether you really, really need it, manually check yourself out so you can see what you're spending, bring your own bags for the bag credit, etc.

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on December 13, 2013:

Very useful hub Jo, thank you. Jamie

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 13, 2013:

We buy according to need rather than all honesty, if there is an impulse buyer in our household it is Bev....but neither of us is prone to doing it very often. Great tips here my friend; I'll go shopping with you any old day.

blessings always


Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hi Theresa, so very nice to see you...thanks for taking a look at this. I guess all the large shops makes use of psychology study to draw us in and keep us spending, but the supermarkets are way ahead because they are able to get our gastric juices on their sides, we buy much more than we need then throw so much of it away.

I hope you're well and having a lovely day, take care and my best to you.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on December 13, 2013:

Jo - What a terrific Hub with wonderful and helpful suggestions about how to resist and avoid all the marketing strategies of supermarkets (probably applies to any kind of store actually). This is a very useful and very interesting Hub. We can all stand to save some money and we should all reduce the amount of food being wasted.

Hope you are having a wonderful December. Blessings! Theresa

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

tirelesstraveler, lovely to see you! Your aversion to grocery shopping, makes you the ideal shopper. You go in and out buying only just what you need as quickly as possible. Next time you're in the UK, you can help with my shopping. :)

Thank you for the visit and comment, much appreciated. Have a great day and my best to you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hi kim, we do the same here, leftover food are donated to charities, food banks, used for composting and given to zoos, they are prevented by law from selling food that have expired. Some supermarkets have specific time when they sell off food that are close to their sell by date. Despite it all there is a lot of wasted food.

Thank you for stopping by, your comment is insightful as always. Take care and my best to you.

Judy Specht from California on December 13, 2013:

Must confess to a great aversion to grocery shopping. Being allergic to dairy and gluten the draw of processed foods. Must make a trip to Britain to see socks and deodorant next to check-out. It's always candy, magazines and breath mints here. Vote up interesting and useful.

ocfireflies on December 13, 2013:


As always a thoughtful and informative hub in which I learned a great deal. Our local Pandora gives any food left at the end of the day to the local shelters. I like the fact that the knowledge you provide is useful for so many of us. Voted Up for sure.


Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hi Ruby, it's great to see you! Those supermarkets don't miss a trick, they just want us to keep spending. Our birds are also well fed, but we have cut back on the amount of food we waste. Yep...the chocolates are very hard to resist. :)

Thank you for stopping by and for the great comment, always appreciated, take care an d my best to you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

Hi Joelle, We fall right into the trap when we shop on an empty stomach. Supermarkets do business, they want to make as much money as they can, I don't even mind the tricks because we can fight it, but I take offense when they deliberately set out to con us and the food wastage is shocking. We do sometimes get buy one, get one free, but it's usually perishable goods like fruits and vegetables, the vegs we often cook-off and freeze. Sounds like you're already getting some Christmas weather, over here it's not so cold but it's foggy. :)

Have a wonderful day, it's always a pleasure to see you, take care and my very best to you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues (author) from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 13, 2013:

hi Jadah, lovely to see you! The supermarkets have us just where they want us,

they know we are always rushing, everyone is in a hurry so we fall for the tricks.

Thanks for taking a look, much appreciated, hope you're having a great day, my best to you.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 13, 2013:

You listed some info. that i was unaware of, ie colors of paint on the walls. I always give the leftovers that we will not eat to the birds, in doing that, i don't feel guilty because the food is not wasted. Very informative article. Thank you. BTW i learned to never shop when i'm hungry. ( chocolate ) lol...

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on December 13, 2013:

Great article Jo! It's sad to think of all the food wasted when you know that some people have a hard time to feed their family. I read all the tricks that supermarkets use to push us to buy.... like the kids cereals at their eye level. I suppose it's fair game in their business!

But with the internet and reward points, they can track what you buy to push you to buy more, that's certain!

Recently, I went shopping on an empty stomach.... and all along I was repeating to myself that I would not buy this or that if I had eaten something before.... but the good thing is it was not wasted :-) Usually I shop for several days and what needs to be prepared right away I will do it and freeze it! The temperatures are so low here right now that I could deep freeze everything outside!

Have a nice warm weekend, Jo!

Voted up, useful and interesting for sure!

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on December 13, 2013:

Hello Jo, great hub with timely advice just before Christmas. Those Supermarkets are full of snaky tricks we need to beware of. Voted up.

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