Most of us, when we do our shopping, will take to our local supermarket to get what we need.
While we might treat ourselves from elsewhere for something in particular, when it comes to getting the basics we normally head to our local Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda or whichever chain it may be to fill our cupboards.
However, a lot of the things we rely on day to day are also available from other places.
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Farm shops are one such other source of your basic foods, but there has long been a perception that, for the local and often homemade produce they sell, you end up paying through the nose for the pleasure.
However, this is a claim that should not go untested.
So I decided to get some basic items from both a well-rated Somerset farm shop – the Rumwell Farm Shop outside Taunton – and a local supermarket to see what the difference really was.
The shop from Rumwell Farm Shop
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How much did it cost?
To keep the comparison simple, the shop was limited to ten basic items:
- A loaf of bread
- A pint of milk
- Six eggs
- Two chicken breasts
- Three carrots (around 350g)
- A broccoli (238g)
- A bag of baby spinach
- A punnet of strawberries
- A bag of potatoes (750g)
I first went to the farm shop to scope out their selection.
I tried to take items that I was likely to find in an average supermarket – farm shops often have a lot of home-produced items that are not the kind of thing you’re likely to find in an average shop, like homemade sweets like fudge, as well as local preserves and often their own brewed drinks.
Settling on the above list, the total price (with a 10p carrier bag charge) came to £23.06.
The receipt from Rumwell Farm Shop outlining the costs of the shop
The key price points in the shop from Rumwell were the chicken breasts, which ended up costing £6.99 for two breasts, as well as a white loads of bread costing £2.75 and £4.20 for a punnet of Westcountry strawberries.
For the comparison, I then went to try and scout out the same items from my local Tesco Express to see what kind of price difference we were up against.
Getting more or less exactly the same items (although I had to go slightly larger on the carrots due to the fact the store wasn’t carrying them loose), the total for the same foods out of Tesco Express came to a handsome £12.30.
The receipt for the same items from Tesco Express
Now, there’s no getting away from the fact that is almost half the price of the farm shop haul – but let’s look at why.
What were the key differences?
When there’s a price gap of that size, it is inevitable there will be a few items that vary widely in price between the two places.
Comparing the shops from Rumwell and Tesco, there are a few of the items involved that definitely explain the size of the gap.
The biggest gap was in the chicken breasts – a pack of two from Tesco cost £2.10, but the poultry from the farm shop comes in at £6.99 – a gap of nearly £5.
The strawberries also proved a difference maker, with a £2 gap in price between the two places.
The bread also saw a significant gap, with the £1.05 the Hovis bread cost from the supermarket comparing favourably to the £2.75 for Rumwell’s bread.
However, there are other factors at play here despite the price gap – so let’s have a look at that.
What are you getting for the price gap?
The selling point of a farm shop as opposed to the supermarket is that they place a heavy emphasis on home-produced and local products over mass-produced food.
We have already pointed out the price gap in the bread in this comparison, for example, but you are still comparing a branded mass-produced bread to that baked in-house at Rumwell, something which does make a significant difference in terms of the product you end up with and some would consider worth paying for.
The eggs Rumwell sells are also fresh from the farm, and the potatoes are part of the mass of them harvested from the farm every year and sold throughout the year.
The items bought from Tesco Express for the comparison
Even those not produced in-house are sourced from local providers – the farm shop’s strawberries are sourced from nearby Cheddar, with the poultry and veg also good quality and locally sourced.
When you compare that to the offerings in supermarkets around the country, the quality of produce on offer (as well as the often increased costs of production) go a long way to explaining why such a price gap exists.
Some people would think the quality is worth paying the extra money for.
You may not think that’s worth paying extra for – no-one would blame you, as at the end of the day money is still money no matter how it’s spent.
But it’s just worth explaining why these kinds of price gaps exist and pointing out that while the farm shop is almost twice as expensive on basic items, you’re often getting better quality products than in supermarkets and they will often last longer too.
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