Value driven food categories across all the supermarkets have featured heavily throughout the recession as we are all looking for ways to save our hard earned pennies, but by opting for the cheaper value products, are you really getting value for money?
It has been brought to our attention by one J Sainsbury’s shopper, Russell Bowes that the Sainsbury’s Basic broccoli is in fact more expensive than their loose head broccoli. Sainsbury’s basic broccoli is priced at £2.63 per Kg (31/01/10), however you may be surprised to hear that their loose head broccoli is cheaper at £1.97 per Kg (31/01/10) meaning better value is to be had when buying the loose head broccoli opposed to the basics. Russell informs us that this dramatic price variation of 66p per Kg is only evident on close inspection when examining what Russell describes as “conveniently coloured price labels” which makes it difficult to read the price per Kg.
When we compared these prices at Tesco (24/02/10), we found that Tesco value Broccoli was 18p per Kg cheaper than the Tesco loose head broccoli and 83p per Kg cheaper than J Sainsbury’s basics broccoli.
When Russell queried the price difference between the basic and loose head broccoli in J Sainsbury’s, he was told “Basics broccoli plants are perhaps not as good or perhaps thinner so it has to be cut up”. Russell queried this, the story then changed “the loose broccoli comes from Spain” – but according to Russell was again forced to change the story when it was pointed out that the “Country of Origin” on the Basics bag also said Spain. Sainsbury’s care line were unable to make sense of this subject when questioned by Russell.
A few days later Russell returned to Sainsbury’s to find what he describes as “a big sign up over the broccoli, one which had been designed to look like its written on a blackboard a la “farmers market” style” which said “British Broccoli – fresh and in season!”. Russell then pointed out that every single solitary head of broccoli bagged or otherwise, was from Spain – the sign was taken down immediately.
We have been informed that this sign has now been replaced by a large notice reminding people that they can use the broccoli stalk (the bit that remains after the florets have been trimmed off) “to add to soups and stews – so no waste! Even better value!” surely this would only apply to the loose heads, rather than the “Basics” which is chopped into individual florets and doesn’t have any stalk? Russell describes J Sainsbury “as playing games with their consumers which is wrong!”
In response to Russell’s allegations of misleading labelling, Sainsbury’s Customer Manager said “The basics range broccoli comes prepared and packaged and therefore a price comparison with loose broccoli would give a misleading view. Our basics range is cheaper compared to the equivalent Sainsbury’s packed broccoli florets but loose broccoli will be cheaper as it has not been prepared or pre-packaged” and that “the difference in price reflects the need for processing and packing the Basics broccoli”.
So buyers beware, shop around for the better value deals and do not be mislead.