A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Top 5 about shopping at the Coburg Farmer’s Market. At the time a couple of people commented about finding Farmer’s Markets expensive., and it got me thinking – Are they?
On a personal level I prefer to shop at Farmer’s Markets above most other places – this is in part because I believe in exercising the political power we have to make choices as consumers, in part because I just spent $75 (now that is expensive) on a shopping trolley and I want to feel I got value for money, and partially because shopping outside, while the kids play in the playground is far more pleasant than wheeling a cart around indoors whilst simultaneously being assaulted by muzak and large end of aisle displays offering 2 packets of extruded corn product topped with exceptionally yellow cheese powder (ie Cheezels) for the bargain price of $4 (or indeed Tim Tams which I find more difficult to resist).
Having said all that though I also don’t like to think I’m wasting my money when I could be getting value for my hard earned dollar elsewhere. With this in mind I decided to find out - Is it more expensive to shop at Coburg Farmer’s Market?
I used to work in the recruitment industry in a former life and the first thing we learnt in sales training was the mantra ‘compared to what’? Whenever a prospective client objected to our sales pitch with the idea ‘ you’re too expensive’ the ‘compared to what?’ followed closely afterward. Here I am tempted to say compared to the evil duopoly and the Preston market but in the interest of fairness I will call the Supermarkets by their real names: Coles and Woolworths.
The other interesting part about ‘compared to what?’ in this context, is that in comparing the market prices with those elsewhere it can be hard to work out what is really a fair comparison. Especially with animal products which I think are surrounded by far greater ethical issues than fruit and veg tends to be. But even with fruit and veg there are things to consider – Are market apples really the same as Coles’ apples? Should I be comparing the market’s, often organically grown, peaches with the conventionally grown picked when green supermarket ones? I could go on forever but in the interest of ensuring readers actually get to the meaty bit – the price comparison’s – here they are:
|Product||Farmer’s Market||Coles||Woolworths||Preston Market|
|Pink Lady apples||$4.00kg||$5.90kg||$5.98kg|
|Baby Carrots||$3.00 bunch||$2.50 bunch||$2.98 bunch||$2.50 bunch|
|Coloured carrots – bunch||$5 bag *||$3.50 a bunch|
|Cauliflower||$3.00 *||$3.00 head||$5.00 head||$3.00 head|
|Baby beets||$4.00 bunch||$2 bunch||$4.00 bunch|
|Cabbage – whole||$2.00||$2.50||$5.00 head||$3.00|
|Cherries||$10 – 16kg *||$16.99kg||$15.99kg||$12.99kg|
|Porterhouse Steak||$20kg (normally $24.99 but they had a sale)||$19.99 – $29.99kg||$16 – $25kg|
The * mean the Farmer’s Market product is organic, all other products are non organic. Organic produce was considerably more expensive then prices listed above at both supermarkets and Preston Market.
The prices above were: Coles price as at 22nd November, prices from the Farmer’s Market on Saturday 23rd November, Preston Market on 6th December and Woolworth’s prices from their online shopping site as at 11th December 2013. I realise that not doing them all on the same day might provide an unfair comparison but hey things aren’t always fair.
I also realise that I haven’t got many meat or other ancillary items on the list – this is due more to my shopping habits rather than anything else. Also there are gaps on the list in some areas – this is because Woolworths don’t provide those items for sale online and in the case of Preston Market its because I forgot to take down prices of some items.
All in all though I was really happy with this exercise. Firstly it shows that shopping at the Market for Fruit & Veg is no more expensive than doing it anywhere else. In fact it is often cheaper and the quality is, in my opinion, vastly superior. (Apricots picked when ripe rather than a month before their best for instance….) Plus you often get the benefit of organic produce for the same price you would pay elsewhere for conventionally grown stuff. With regard to the meat – the Porterhouse Steaks I bought at the market were absolutely delicious. It was the first time both my kids ate all their steak and that, if nothing else, is worth the couple of dollars more than the lowest price at Preston Market. As an aside – I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but they cut the steaks really, really thick at Preston Market and as a result I can never get the cooking time quite right.
The market is on again this Saturday and now I can shop with abandon knowing that I’m not over spending on my own ethical indulgences. Besides which, a toasted cheese sandwich costs $10 everywhere right?