Aims: Inadequate fruit and vegetable (F & V) consumption is an important dietary risk factor for disease internationally. High F & V prices can be a barrier to dietary intake and so to improve understanding of this topic we surveyed prices and potential competition between F & V outlet types. Methods: Over a three week early autumn period in 2013, prices were collected bi-weekly for 18 commonly purchased F & Vs from farmers' markets (FM) selling local produce (n = 3), other F & V markets (OFVM) (n = 5), supermarkets that neighbored markets (n = 8), and more distant supermarkets (n = 8), (in urban Wellington and Christchurch areas of New Zealand). Prices from an online supermarket were also collected. Results: A total of 3120 prices were collected. Most F & Vs (13/18) were significantly cheaper at OFVMs than supermarkets. Over half of the F & Vs (10/18) were significantly cheaper at nearby compared to distant supermarkets, providing evidence of a moderate 'halo effect' in price reductions in supermarkets that neighbored markets. Weekend (vs midweek) prices were also significantly cheaper at nearby (vs distant) supermarkets, supporting evidence for a 'halo effect'. Ideal weekly 'food basket' prices for a two adult, two child family were: OFVMs (NZ$76), online supermarket ($113), nearby supermarkets ($124), distant supermarkets ($127), and FMs ($138). This represents a savings of $49 per week (US$26) by using OFVMs relative to (non-online) supermarkets. Similarly, a shift from non-online supermarkets to the online supermarket would generate a $ 13 saving. Conclusions: In these locations general markets appear to be providing some substantially lower prices for fruit and vegetables than supermarkets. They also appear to be depressing prices in neighboring supermarkets. These results, when supplemented by other needed research, may help inform the case for interventions to improve access to fruit and vegetables, particularly for low-income populations. © 2014 Pearson et al.
Pearson, A. L., Winter, P. R., McBreen, B., Stewart, G., Roets, R., Nutsford, D., … Wilson, N. (2014). Obtaining fruit and vegetables for the lowest prices: Pricing survey of different outlets and geographical analysis of competition effects. PLoS ONE, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089775