Sainsbury's and the great British broccoli mystery

Bitterwallet - the great British broccoli swindleThe first rules of supermarket vegetable wholesale practises is you don't talk about supermarket vegetable wholesale practises. At least not if you're Sainsbury's.

If years of Jamie Oliver's mawkish cockney shenanigans have crushed your spirit and turned you into a Sainsbury's drone, you might not question where the retailer sources its stock from - or why it sells what it does, at the price it does. Avid Bitterwallet reader and broccoli stalwart Russell did, however:

Last week I went to my local Sainsbury's to buy some vegetables. Not having that much money on me I picked up a packet of Basics broccoli which, like most people, I automatically assumed was cheaper than buying the broccoli loose from the crate to the right of it. Then I checked the label. Basics broccoli was £2.63 per kg, while the loose heads in the crate next to it were £1.97 per kg.

I queried this in the store. The vegetable department manager told me the difference in price was because Basics broccoli (which is in individual florets in a plastic bag) comes from 'plants that are perhaps not as good or perhaps thinner so it has to be cut up'. I suggested this should make it cheaper, not more expensive. She then changed her story and said the loose stuff originated in Spain, but was forced to change her story again when I pointed out that the 'Country of Origin' on the Basics bag also said Spain. She then said that she would take it up with 'the buyer' and walked off.

I phoned Sainsbury's Careline, who were equally as evasive about why their supposedly cheaper range turned out to be more expensive than buying the product loose. When I found myself in Sainbury's again yesterday, 'British Broccoli... fresh and in season!' shouted a sign in the vegetable department. Every bloody head of broccoli on that display had been flown in from Spain.


  • brian b.
    all supermarkets are lying money grabing fat slags
  • zacspeed
    Maybe they flew it from spain via Ryanair??
  • Sceptic
    @Brian Is that why your mum shops there - familiar turf?
  • KellyD
    Just a theory but... When you buy the bagged Basics stuff, most of it is edible (allegedly) - all the thick woody stems have been removed. Therefore you are getting more edible product for your money, compared to the loose stuff. Like boneless chicken costing more per pound than the stuff with the bones in it. If you really want to save money, trim the stems of your brocolli with a pocket knife before they are weighed at the checkout. They like that.
  • Brian's U.
    just tear off the woody bit on the loose stuff.
  • The B.
    I made a lovely broccoli soup yesterday, it's given me terrible wind today though.
  • Russell s.
    "When you buy the bagged Basics stuff, most of it is edible (allegedly)" Thats a nice theory, unfortunately I can shoot it down in flames. "Basics" carrots (in a bag) are more expensive kg for kg than buying them loose from the crate right next to it. By about 10p a kg.
  • me
    I've been buying those damn basics carrots and broccoli for months. I'd wish I could shop at Asda.
  • Nobby
    I nearly always buy loose. Pick the ones you want, not the ones that a minimum wage eastern european has put into a bag.
  • negbobsquarepants
    Sainsbury's courgettes are also guilty of this most dispicable crime, what else would you expect from the marrow family??!!
  • swf
    I always try to buy my fruit+veg at an independent greengrocer. Cheaper by a mile, no unnecessary packaging . Well worth the trip if you have the time. Supermarket fruit+veg total rip-off!
  • Bullet
    Whats the problem here except that you assumed because it says basic you thought it was cheaper, try this website COMPARETHEBROCCOLI.COM
  • BallBag
    Why would somebody go into so much trouble trying to find out why one broccoli is more expensive than another broccoli... ...fffffuuuuuuuu!
  • Aled
    Isn't it simply because it's pre-packed and you don't have to sort through it yourself? It's more convenient, hence you pay for the convenience.
  • GMC
    Get a life bro, anways broccoli tastes like shit.
  • NellieIrrelevant
    It's true, pre-packed stuff always costs more than loose. You're paying for the time you save choosing it and bagging it. Who said 'basic' meant 'cheap' anyway? Russell's getting all indignant about an assumption he'd made (thought labelling it British is a bit off, admittedly.) The price of the veg is on the shelf. Read the price to find out which selection is cheaper. It's not rocket science.
  • Captain H.
    Broccoli is really good for you! Helps reduce the likelihood of getting the following medical illnesses: Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, stomach and colon cancer, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even helps slow down the aging process. So stop injecting botox and start eating broccoli.
  • Russell
    I didnt realise that people on this webiste were so goddammed rude. Sainburys market Basics as "A range of quality foods and grocery at low prices, helping budget conscious shoppers lower the cost of their weekly shop". One therefore assumes that the Basics range are bog-standard, cheap items - cheaper than the non-Basics ranges. But what Sainsburys do is use our assumption and lie to us. As to "getting a life" because I happened to check the price of two different "brands" of broccoli, well. Thats just vicious.
  • Russell
    According to a message left by Sainsburys on my answering machine yesterday, the difference in price "reflects the need for processing and packing the Basics broccoli". A major consumer website (whose readers are a damned sight less rude than people on this one) have taken up the story and will be starting a campaign about it next week. So yah boo sucks to you, GMC.
  • Ten B.
    [...] When is British broccoli not British broccoli? When it’s from Sainsburys. [...]

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