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April 08, 2007

Rip Off Britain: Farmers Markets

Ain't capitalism great?

Farmers Markets appear to be selling conventionally produced food, from the regular wholesale chain, at inflated prices.

Consider, for example, Isle of Wight Tomatoes, one of the most established stallholders at London’s numerous farmers’ markets. It looks like a small, traditional enterprise and claims to sell its own homegrown produce. Think again. Its tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers are bought from a separate company, Wight Salads, the bulk of whose £60m turnover comes from supplying supermarket chains.

Worse, as far as many green consumers may be concerned, many of the tomatoes are actually experimental genetic crossbreeds that Wight Salads is engineering to try to find the “next best thing” for the supermarkets. In short, these tomatoes are a far cry from traditional British produce homegrown in a smallholding.

“They [Wight Salads] crossbreed to increase the flavour a little, increase the colour, increase the yield,” explained Jeff MacDonald, a director of Isle of Wight Tomatoes, the company that sells them on farmers’ market stalls. “That trial produce comes to farmers’ markets.”

It’s a very good business. Nonorganic cherry tomatoes bought from Isle of Wight Tomatoes and weighing 455g (16oz) fetch £3.50 at the Pimlico farmers’ market stall. At Tesco you can pick up the equivalent weight of organic cherry tomatoes for £1.78. Ordinary tomatoes like the ones The Sunday Times bought from the market cost even less and the equivalent weight can be bought at Tesco for £1.26.

Thank the Lord there's someone out there competing with the supermarkets, eh? Without that constraint upon their behaviour, why, they might start to rip people off!

April 8, 2007 in Food and Drink | Permalink


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Tracked on Apr 8, 2007 5:05:26 PM


My local shop sells fruit and veg cheaper than the local Tesco, which is nice. It doesn't mean that Tesco is ripping me off, though.

In the same way that not all stallholders in a market (farmers' or otherwise) are equal.

Posted by: 2old4this | Apr 8, 2007 11:02:45 AM

They're selling GM? Excellent.

Posted by: Josh | Apr 8, 2007 11:46:58 AM

Don't buy farmers market meat either. It tends to be swimming in water.

Posted by: Bishop Hill | Apr 8, 2007 12:46:38 PM

experimental genetic crossbreeds

This is clever propaganda: using the word "genetic" to imply "genetically modified" without actually saying so. Presumably these are actually ordinary crossbred strains (like all crops).

They're selling GM?

See how well the misdirection works?

Posted by: Gdr | Apr 8, 2007 12:49:49 PM

Viz magazine saw through the farmers' market scam years ago with a Farmer Palmer piece.

What's also funny is I'll bet the bearded, sandal wearing muesli eaters who boasted of their buying overpriced tomatoes claimed they could tell the difference from the identical product sold out of Tescos.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Apr 8, 2007 9:48:46 PM