Sainsbury's and the great British broccoli mystery
The 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.