Fresh pricing battle, but who wins... Leighton Market or Tesco/Morrison?

South West Beds parliamentary candidate Andrew Selous buying veg
South West Beds parliamentary candidate Andrew Selous buying veg
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Fresh produce prices at Leighton Buzzard Market and two main supermarkets in the town have placed head-to-head to highlight the value on offer from stallholders.

The Friends of the Earth exercise, part of a campaign calling for the public to support the market, claims that some fruit and veg available at the market is, on average 15% cheaper than in the superstores.

Great Barford farmer R Gates

Great Barford farmer R Gates

South Beds FoE found 12 popular fruit and vegetable items sold at J Harris’ opposite Dillamore’s Furnishers – one of the market’s longest-established stalls – to be more affordable than equivalent products in a price comparison with the local Tesco and Morrison stores.

FoE’s research cites examples such as soup staples leek and potatoes which are, on average, 15% and 17% cheaper, and adds: “What makes the Leighton Buzzard market even more cost-effective is the high quality of its produce and that it is supporting local farmers.

Whereas supermarket fruit and vegetables are generally delivered to a central warehouse and often have to travel hundreds of miles before reaching the store aisles, a Great Barford-based farmer (only 25 miles away), personally delivers a range of his vegetables which usually includes carrots, potatoes, onions etc to J Harris’ stall twice a week.

“South Beds Friends of the Earth have visited the farm and found that it used minimal pesticides in comparison with many larger farms. J Harris also sell a wide range of British grown veg and fruit.”

Market v supermarkets price comparison by FoE

Market v supermarkets price comparison by FoE

Marco Giudici, of South Beds Friends of the Earth, added: “J Harris, who has been at the very heart of our local market for over 20 years and knows most of his customers personally, is a great example of how a more sustainable, community-based approach to food retail is not only possible, but also translates into better quality at a fair price.

“Supporting our local market is a great way of keeping our town centre buzzing, fostering friendly relationships between producers and consumers and a stronger sense of community, which goes hand in hand with helping the environment.

“We really encourage people to try out the market and save money. These small simple actions make all the difference in keeping our town centre alive and we are so lucky in Leighton Buzzard compared with many other towns.”

FoE say eating more seasonal, local and sustainably grown fruit and vegetables can help reduce our carbon footprint in many ways. It curbs the amount of energy that goes into food production, storage and transportation and also means fewer greenhouse gas emissions from chemical pesticides.

They say another important environmental benefit is the reduction in packaging as the food items at Leighton Buzzard Market are often sold loose, meaning that customers can buy and place most of their fruit and vegetables directly in their carrier bags without producing any plastic or paper packaging waste.

This also makes it easier to select the right quantity of food and reduce food waste, whereas prepacked fruit and vegetable bags and cheap deals in supermarkets often encourage shoppers to buy more vegetables than needed and result in food being thrown away.

The general Leighton Buzzard Market it is held every Tuesday and Saturday and there is also a Farmers Market on the third Saturday and Craft Market on the fourth Saturday of each month. For more information visit www.leightonbuzzardmarket.co.uk.

> Of its price comparison table, FoE says: “Items cheaper at the market stall on March 11 opposite Dillamores were: Royal Gala apples, grapes, potatoes, sprouts, leeks, conference pears, cox apples, granny smith apples, avocadoes, melons, Braeburn apples, Galia Melons.

“Prices obviously change due to supply prices and seasons affecting when local farmers supply produce but the price comparison shows a significant difference on some items such20p (Tesco) or 60p (Morrison) on a kilo of UK Royal gala apples, or 15p on a kilo of leeks (Tesco) and 40p (Morrison).

“Obviously, some of the items are more expensive and this has been clearly marked.”

Where do you get your fruit and veg... and why? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk