Woolworths are known as the “Fresh Food People” but are they as ‘fresh’ as Will Smith? Or are markets the way to go?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Food and Beverage Industry Food Descriptors Guideline to the Trade Practices Act states “The term ‘fresh’ is used in different contexts and can refer to the nature of a food, its age or taste. The term may even be used as part of a brand name. When used as a brand name, the term should not be used to give an impression that the product is ‘fresh’ when it is not.”
Well this is the question I know has been on my mind – who is the freshest?
Have you ever regretfully woken up the day after eating shitty food during a cram sesh, or downing a whole $5 Domino’s pizza on Cheap Tuesday, or just the standard ‘new year, new me’ New Year’s resolution and found yourself on a health-kick?
If so you might have done one of the following:
1. Signed up for an impulse one-year gym membership (Don’t do it! – a glass of wine is more rewarding),
2. Gone for a run and found you could barely go a block with out your lungs collapsing, or
3. Deciding to shop at the Saturday farmers’ markets – until you realise that you haven’t woken up before 10am on a Saturday since you were 17.
If you’re snuggled up in bed at 6am on a Saturday struggling to decide if your New Year’s resolution really means that much to you, this may help:
According to a couple of stallholders at the the Jan Power Markets, the Rocklea Markets, and various Woolworths employees; in Brisbane city, all produce is picked from small local farming areas all over Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Some of these locations include: Gatton, Beaudesert, Greenbank, Stanthorpe, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, and the Lake Wivenhoe area, etc.
From here this process includes: transporting the produce from the farms to one of Rocklea’s produce warehouses, where it will then go on to be sold at the Brisbane Markets. Every morning at these markets, small local businesses, restaurants, and agents (generally for supermarket) go in and hand pick the best produce that they can see. Finally, this produce is sold at markets, supermarkets, grocers and used in restaurants all around the Greater Brisbane area, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast.
At the Brisbane Markets produce is graded, with the supermarkets usually ordering the A-grade produce. When attending the Rocklea Markets, Hughie’s Fruit and Vegetable stallholder, informed me that A-grade produce is medium sized, vibrant in colour, and has a good taste and texture. Generally, this is what supermarkets order and have delivered to their stores. Liz a staff at Woolworths, noted that produce is constantly quality controlled and that staff go around a few times a day to quality check everything that’s on display for customers. If it doesn’t meet the Woolworths’ quality check, it will be put on sale.
Hughie’s, Farmboy and Missy Mae’s market stallholders, all said that the trick to having low prices is for them to haggle down to get the best price from the Brisbane Markets. As supermarket chains order such a large quantity, it makes it easier for their agents to get a bargain by buying in bulk. Matt, a Woolworths produce assistant, noted that Woolworths sometimes have representatives that go directly to the farms and bargain with the farmers for bulk in-season items, to then place on special. However, it is common for some of this produce to be put in cold storage, later sold out of season.
e.g. Last week (the week of the April 22nd) the price of red apples were:
- Woolworths – approx. $3.98/kg
- Markets – approx. $2.50/kg to $4.00/kg
- Organic Grocers – approx. $5.98/kg
The ACCC Consumer Law states that all businesses must give a receipt or proof of purchase for anything over $75 within seven days of asking. It is very common for stallholders to not accept cards and therefore provide receipts. According to Matt, Woolworths have a ‘fresh or free’ guarantee which extends to produce, especially if something is bad on the inside or doesn’t last as long as it should, they give a refund and a replacement, by simply presenting your receipt or produce packaging.
The most common produce that is stored, are: apples, oranges, onions and potatoes. These produce are commonly stored in supermarkets. For market stall like Hughie’s, apples are the only produce they have the capacity to hold.
Out of season:
Out of season produce is where it starts to get tricky. Prices go up, unseasonal produce comes out of storage or is imported globally.
- The word ‘fresh’ is used loosely
- All Queensland produce comes from the same farms or farming areas
- Overall supermarkets are cheaper, convenient, and more reliable.
- Markets have more variety, are less likely to store produce for long periods of time, and support local merchants and/or small farms
- Price does not determine freshness, price is determined by how well merchants and agents can haggle
- Shop in season
- Imported items can no longer be classified as organic as they go through Quarantine.
- Grade your own produce for freshness
- If possible, try before you buy
- Try to avoid produce that has been misted
- Try to avoid stalls that only accept cash as it is harder to get refunds