Farm shops clobbered by produce price war
Farm shops and the fresh produce sector have slammed supermarket groups for jeopardising both small retailers and producers with loss-leading promotions on fruit and vegetables.
Price-busting deals impacted footfall over Christmas at some farm shops located near supermarkets, FFD has learned.
Promotional examples over the Christmas period include the Co-op’s Fresh Three veg offer while Tesco ran a Festive Five, selling cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and potatoes at 39p per pack.
Aldi ran a Super Six offer which offered an assortment for 19p each and Lidl sold its own-brand shallots, carrots, parsnips and roast potatoes for 29p each.
John Upson, who owns Upsons Farm Shop in Chelmsford, Essex, and has a Co-op “on his doorstep”, said some of the blame for a heavy fall in year-on-year sales over Christmas could be levelled at the supermarkets “selling cucumbers, for example, for 40p when I couldn’t buy them for under 80p”.
Upson suspected shoppers enticed by the supermarkets’ fruit and veg deals bought the rest of their shopping while they were there.
“As a grower as well as farm shop retailer we see it from both sides,” he said. “It’s not good for the industry as a whole. A price war never is.”
The multiples look set to continue targeting fruit and veg in 2017, with Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl and Asda all running deals during January.
Nigel Chandler, manager at Garsons Farm Shop in Esher, Surrey, warned it would “come to a crashing end”.
He added: “They are devaluing staple food lines for the rest of the industry, using it to get customers in. I’m really angry about it.
“They can have 10 loss leaders in fresh produce and make it up on other lines. This can’t go on.”
Garsons ran coupons on-site for four “strategically seasonal products” which Chandler said brought in 8% of its fresh produce sales at Christmas.
Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association, said: “Dragging people through the door is what it’s all about. Fresh produce is extremely influential. Once you have them in the store, the chances are you will sell them everything else at more realistic prices.”