Is it worth the extra cost?

Organic versus standard produce

Environmentally-conscious shoppers are driving the demand for organic fruit and vegetables, as clearly some are willing to pay more for chemical-free options. Newshub investigated the quality and cost difference, including tips on how to reduce cost to the back pocket.

Steve Sexton, head of produce at Countdown said that over the last five years, people have become more concerned about what they eat and shoppers are willing to pay more for organic produce.

Managing pesticides
Although chemical sprays are commonly used on standard produce, Countdown said that there are controls in place to manage health risks. "All of our growers follow NZ Gap rules for both organic and conventional produce.  [These] ensure our growers aren't over spraying or using the wrong sprays."

Comparison at the cart
Newshub then compared the cost of three common items at Countdown standard produce prices, against 99 to 100 percent organic supplier Ooooby. Findings showed that for the selected items, Ooooby was 88 percent more expensive than Countdown.

The cost of apples at Countdown ranged from $3.50 to $4.30 per kg the lowest being jazz apples at $0.49c cheaper. The largest price difference was in the cost of carrots.  Excluding these, Ooooby was just 11 percent more expensive. 

Ooooby (99-100 percent organic):

  • 1kg apples: $3.99 (Hawkes Bay - price varies from $3.50)
  • One bunch of eight bananas: $4.99 (All good fair trade, Ecuador)
  • 1kg carrots: $9.99 from Hawkes Bay (usually $7.99 but now from elsewhere, at higher cost)

    Total cost: $18.97

Countdown (standard produce) as at Tuesday 17 September:

  • 1kg fresh produce jazz apples: $3.50 (cheapest option)
  • One bunch of fresh produce yellow bananas: $4.56 ($0.57c ea)
  • 1kg fresh produce carrots - loose: $2.00

    Total cost: $10.06

Of course, the golden rule for cutting down spending on fruit and vegetables is to buy what's in season.  According to seasonality charts, many staples including broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach are available year-round. The strawberry and avocado season is about to start, while feijoas are available from March to June.

For shoppers who want maximum nutritional value from their food and are concerned about freshness and chemical sprays, organically sourced fruit and vegetables may be more nutrient-dense than those from large monoculture farms.

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