The following appeared as part of an annual report sent to stockholders by Olympic Foods, a processor of frozen foods:“Over time, the costs of processing go down because as organizations learn how to do things better, they become more efficient. In color film processing, for example, the cost of a 3-by-5-inch print fell from 50 cents for five-day service in 1970 to 20 cents for one-day service in 1984. The same principle applies to the processing of food. And since Olympic Foods will soon celebrate its 25th birthday, we can expect that our long experience will enable us to minimize costs and thus maximize profits.” 

The author assumes that since organizations engaged in color-film processing were able to increase efficiency and cut-down costs over a period of 25 years; same must be true of Olympic Foods, which is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The arguments is based on questionable assumptions and weak analogies and appears to be a result of a hasty generalization.  

The main problem with the author’s reasoning is the weak analogy he develops between the two “processing” industries. One fails to see any logical connection between the two and the author makes no effort to show the connection either. The two industries are too dissimilar to be compared. For example: frozen food industry faces problem of storage, transportation, contamination etc; no similar problems are observed in the film-processing industry. Even the markets for the two differ widely. The argument could have been strong if the author could show the missing connection or if he had compared the frozen-food industry with a similar industry.  

Also the author fails to recognize that it’s not the number of years of experience that matters; what actually matters is what is learnt over all those years.  An industry may mature over a couple of years, yet another may remain stagnant even after 25 years. The color-film industry people may have tremendous learnings that may have contributed to the cost-reduction; but the report shows no evidence of Olympic Foods doing the same. 

Another point that the author misses completely is that there may be factors other than just the expertise and experience gained over the mentioned period. For example: developments in technology may have resulted in the cost-reduction for the color-film processing industry. The author could have strengthened his stand by showing that it’s merely the increased efficiency that has brought costs down. He could have also chosen to highlight similar developments in the food-processing industry too. 

To sum, the author’s conclusion doesn’t appear to be convincing at all. The author could have made it a bit persuasive by presenting the evidence mentioned above. Without these, the argument is weak and fails to impress the reader.  

3 Responses to “AWA Argument#1:: Olympic Foods”

  1. Sarah says:

    Hey Shobhit. I thought this first essay was good. I was written clearly and I think you did a great job. Two little points that really aren’t anything at all.

    (1) In this sentence:
    The argument could have been strong if the author could show the missing connection or if he had compared the frozen-food industry with a similar industry.
    I would have loved to see you actually put with a similar industry, for example….

    (2) This sentence is quite awkward and I think it’s just because in the US we don’t use the word “learnings” also people is awkward too

    The color-film industry people may have tremendous learnings that may have contributed to the cost-reduction

    Perhaps:
    The color-film industry may have had a positive learning curve that contributed to its cost reduction over time.

    (3) Oops one last point…always write out contractions so it’s is it is

  2. Atul says:

    The sentence “he cost of a 3-by-5-inch print fell from 50 cents for five-day service in 1970 to 20 cents for one-day service in 1984” suggests that though the efficiency has gone up from 5 day service to one day the cost has gone up. 10 cents for one-day service in 1974 to 20 cents in 1984.

    Cheers

    Atul

  3. xnsimzof says:

    The author here says that since the color film processing industry
    has reduced its cost and made a profit over a period of about decade, the
    frozen food processing industry can also make it. But this analogy is not
    convincing since both the industries fall under completely different categories.

    Cost of a product and the profit made depends on the demand
    and supply of the product, the process involved in manufacturing it, equipments
    used and many other factors. So comparison can be done only between industries
    manufacturing the same product.

    So, instead of comparing Olympic foods with color film
    processing, If the author would have compared it with some other company manufacturing
    frozen foods or if he would have added to the statement “over time, the costs
    of processing goes down because as organizations learn how to do things better,
    they become more efficient”, the evidence showing the modification in their process
    which can lead their company into profits, it would have been convincing
    regarding maximizing profits.

    And one more word which is not clear in the text is “experience”.
    But just experience doesn’t judge the profitability of a company because there
    are many companies who are just with standing the market since many years but
    couldn’t make profit. It depends on the reputation of the company. If the
    company is well reputed then it is prone to make more profit.

    So, finally to conclude if the author would have considered
    the above points the given text would have been more convincing.

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