The Market versus Supermarket Produce Challenge

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Flemington Markets box

Kirribilli markets

Kirribilli markets

When I heard that Flemington markets had set up a markets to you delivery service where they delivered to you a box of fresh F&V for $45 I was curious. $45 is the Movers box, ideal for couples. There is also a Standard box suited to a family of 4 for $55 and a Family box which is 1.5 times the size of the Standard box for $68, all delivery costs included. I never get out to Flemington markets, it's too far away and they close too early on weekends for me. So this was the next best thing. And I love being a guinea pig so I was eager to try this service.

Flemington Markets box_ _

Ordering was fairly easy, they have a website where you specify which items you want and don't want and then pay online. You can also choose 1/2 size, full size or double size serves of a particular fruit or veg. There was a glitch in the payment area, I didn't get the chance to put in my credit card but the website thought that I did. A customer service person Patty rang me that afternoon to take my credit card number and she gave me some hints as to how to order. She suggested taking out celery and lettuce and items that take up a lot of room. I told her that I really love baby spinach, mixed salad leaves and rocket and a function where I could put a preference for certain items would be useful. She let me know that I would receive an email asking for feedback and that I should put that in.

Flemington Markets box

My haul $45

One thing I did have issue with was the courier, Fastway couriers. I've previously had very bad experiences with them as our intercom doesn't work all of the time and despite being given instructions to call us they never do so we don't get our packages. I expressed my concerns to Patty and she said that she would try and get one of their own delivery people to deliver it to me. She called back later saying that she wasn't able to get them to deliver to our area on that day but she had put a large note on top with our number and not to leave it at the door.

Flemington Markets box

The note about the intercom, of course ignored by the courier ...

And of course you guessed it, on the day of delivery, Fastway just left the box downstairs at the front door without calling us. Luckily there was no-one wanting a free box of fruit and veg. And of course there is a very clear note on the top saying "CUSTOMER WILL BE HOME ALL DAY, DO NOT LEAVE AT FRONT DOOR. PLEASE CALL XXXX XXX XXX FOR CUSTOMER TO COME DOWN" which was promptly ignored.

Flemington Markets box

I received a 45cms x 30cms x 30cms box about 2/3 rds full (it should have been about 1/2 full). This is what I received, a rather impressive haul I thought:

  • Apple: 3 x green = 380g
  • Apple: 3 x Royal Gala = 346g
  • Baby spinach: 86g bag
  • Bananas: 2 green 2 yellow =642g
  • Bean Sprouts: 250g bag
  • Broccoli: 1 head 384g
  • Capsicum: 1 red 246g
  • Carrots: 5x=470g
  • Cauliflower: 1/2 head 502g
  • Chinese Cabbage: 1/2 head 1.108kg
  • Continental parsley: 1 large bunch
  • Coriander: 1 bunch
  • Cucumber: 2x=258g
  • Eggplant: 1x small=250g
  • Grapes: 1 bunch 398g
  • Lemon: 1 large 186g
  • Lettuce hydro: x1
  • Mandarins: 6x=510g
  • Mixed leaf salad: 100g bag
  • Onion: 1x red=164g
  • Oranges: 3x=924g
  • Parsley: 1 large bunch (Continental)
  • Parsnip: 1 large 284g
  • Potatoes: 7 large Desirees =1.784kg
  • Rocket: 92g bag
  • Rockmelon: 1 x 1.176kg
  • Shallots: 1 bunch 5 shoots
  • Sweet Potato: 2x =680g
  • Tomatoes: 4 vine ripened =546g
  • Zucchini: 2x= 300g

Total cost $45 including delivery -13.8kgs including box weight

Flemington Markets box

I missed out on 1 spanish onion, a lot of baby spinach, rocket and mixed salad and 1 parsnip. However I can't complain in the slightest as I suspected I had overpacked my shopping list. However as I mentioned, a facility where you can rate the importance of the items would be useful as I would have happily ditched the oranges, some potatoes or chinese cabbage for my beloved salad leaves.

Flemington Markets box

Rocket with brown spots (1/4 was unmarked)

Flemington Markets box

After 4 days

Flemington Markets box

Capsicum with worm-organic without the benefits

As the week went on, I noticed that some items went bad quite quickly, a mandarin turned black within 3 days, my one and only red capsicum had a large worm boring through it (yes I heard from my vegetarian in laws that it means that it's closer to being organic but do I care? I needed to go to the store now to buy a replacement for the dinner party), the rockmelon started to go bad after 3 days, most of the rocket had brown spots on it and a tomato started to go bad after 4 days.

Flemington Markets box

After 1 or 2 days

The worst item (apart from the capsicum with the ghastly worm) was probably the hydro lettuce which I tried to eat a day or two after receiving it only to find that it had brown spots all over it and I could only salvage a tiny handful of the entire lettuce.

After 1.5 weeks most of the items had started to deteriorate so I wouldn't necessarily use this for a 2 week shop like some people might want to. The items that remained in good condition for a 2 week period were the sweet potatoes, chinese cabbage, cucumber, apples, parsley, grapes, lemon and onion.

Flemington Markets box

I am in two minds about ordering again. Quite frankly if they are going to use Fastway Couriers I think I'd hold off until the body corporate fixes the intercom (and knowing body corporates, it might be never) . Also the good thing about picking things yourself is that you notice the little things and you take care and time and pick the best produce yourself-I could tell from the start that the red capsicum that it wasn't quite right. I had a potato that was burnt on one end that could easily have been seen had I packed it myself. They have a refund policy if you find that your F&V isn't up to scratch, you photograph it and send them the pic but you may get sick of taking pictures of bad fruit and vegetables.

Flemington Markets box

Potato with burnt part

In any case, I contacted them to let them know my feedback and they gave me a $7 credit for the substandard fruit and vegetable. When I asked if the credit could be in the form of a refund they agreed to that but said that it would be 3-4 weeks before it appeared. Patty also told me that they were no longer using Fastway Couriers for the North Shore as they had received a lot of complaints about them in this area so instead, her husband would take over the deliveries but would only be able to do Thursdays. So there is hope!

There is an offer, if you mention someone that has referred you, you will get $10 off your first order and the referee also receives $10 off their next order so feel free to mention "Lorraine Elliott"!

Coles

To buy this from Coles it would have cost me:

  • Apple: 3 x green = 380g $1.51
  • Apple: 3 x Royal Gala = 346g $1.72
  • Baby spinach: 86g bag $1.72
  • Bananas: 2 green 2 yellow =642g $0.82c
  • Bean Sprouts: 250g bag $1.89
  • Broccoli: 1 head 384g $0.91
  • Capsicum: 1 red 246g $1.47
  • Carrots: 5x=470g $1.16
  • Cauliflower: 1/2 head 502g $2.48
  • Chinese Cabbage: 1/2 head 1.108kg $2.96
  • Continental parsley: 1 large bunch $1.98
  • Coriander: 1 bunch $1.98
  • Cucumber: 2x=258g $0.76c
  • Eggplant: 1x small=250g $2.48
  • Grapes: 1 bunch 398g (black Muscats were on sale at my Coles) $1.58
  • Lemon: 1 large 186g $0.64c
  • Lettuce hydro: x1 $1.68
  • Mandarins: 6x=510g $1.50
  • Mixed leaf salad: 100g bag $1.98
  • Onion: 1x red=164g $0.81c
  • Oranges: 3x=924g $4.60
  • Parsley: 1 large bunch (Continental) $1.98
  • Parsnip: 1 large 284g $2.55
  • Potatoes: 7 large Desirees =1.784kg $5.35
  • Rocket: 92g bag $1.83
  • Rockmelon: 1 x 1.176kg $3.48
  • Shallots: 1 bunch 5 shoots $1.88
  • Sweet Potato: 2x =680g $1.34
  • Tomatoes: 4 vine ripened =546g $4.90
  • Zucchini: 2x= 300g $1.19

Total: $61.13

And as friendly as the Coles F&V guy is, the produce does look a bit sad at times but the proof is in the lasting and it certainly doesn't last very long. This is my local Coles at Warringah Mall, obviously there will be slight differences in price according to area.

Woolworths

To buy the same box from Woolworths it would have cost me:

  • Apple: 3 x green = 380g $1.89
  • Apple: 3 x Royal Gala = 346g $1.71
  • Baby spinach: 86g bag $2.22
  • Bananas: 2 green 2 yellow =642g $0.86
  • Bean Sprouts: 250g bag $1.78
  • Broccoli: 1 head 384g $1.52
  • Capsicum: 1 red 246g $1.47c
  • Carrots: 5x=470g $0.79
  • Cauliflower: 1/2 head 502g $1.85
  • Chinese Cabbage: 1/2 head 1.108kg $2.98
  • Continental parsley: 1 large bunch $1.98
  • Coriander: 1 bunch $1.98
  • Cucumber: 2x=258g $1.28
  • Eggplant: 1x small=250g $1.99
  • Grapes: 1 bunch 398g $2.20
  • Lemon: 1 large 186g $0.92c
  • Lettuce hydro: x1 $1.24
  • Mandarins: 6x=510g $2.02
  • Mixed leaf salad: 100g bag $2.84
  • Onion: 1x red=164g $0.81c
  • Oranges: 3x=924g $3.66
  • Parsley: 1 large bunch (Continental) $1.98
  • Parsnip: 1 large 284g $2.55
  • Potatoes: 7 large Desirees =1.784kg $4.63
  • Rocket: 92g bag $2.66
  • Rockmelon: 1 x 1.176kg $4.97
  • Shallots: 1 bunch 5 shoots $1.98
  • Sweet Potato: 2x =680g $2.02
  • Tomatoes: 4 vine ripened =546g $4.90
  • Zucchini: 2x= 300g $1.43

Total: $65.11

Woolworths is definitely the more expensive of the two supermarkets although they do push the "Fresh Food" line a bit. They also have white corn and I have to say their produce looks a bit better than Coles, however I rarely buy from Woolworths so I don't know what the lasting power is like. We priced this at Woolworths Neutral Bay (note: not such a hot pick up joint any more!)

Paddy's Markets

_Paddys markets

Paddy's Markets _

To buy it from Paddy's markets, it would have cost me:

  • Apple: 3 x green = 380g $0.38c
  • Apple: 3 x Royal Gala = 346g $0.35c
  • Baby spinach: 86g bag $0.86c
  • Bananas: 2 green 2 yellow =642g $0.77c
  • Bean Sprouts: 250g bag $1.20
  • Broccoli: 1 head 384g $0.76
  • Capsicum: 1 red 246g $0.49c
  • Carrots: 5x=470g $0.47c
  • Cauliflower: 1/2 head 502g $1
  • Chinese Cabbage: 1/2 head 1.108kg $1.50
  • Continental parsley: 1 large bunch $1.50
  • Coriander: 1 bunch $1.50
  • Cucumber: 2x=258g $0.26c
  • Eggplant: 1x small=250g $0.75c
  • Grapes: 1 bunch 398g $1.39
  • Lemon: 1 large 186g $0.30c
  • Lettuce hydro: x1 $1.00
  • Mandarins: 6x=510g $0.91c
  • Mixed leaf salad: 100g bag $1.00
  • Onion: 1x red=164g $0.32c
  • Oranges: 3x=924g $1.37
  • Parsley: 1 large bunch (Continental) $1.00
  • Parsnip: 1 large 284g $1.42
  • Potatoes: 7 large Desirees =1.784kg $1.42
  • Rocket: 92g bag $0.92c
  • Rockmelon: 1 x 1.176kg $1.50
  • Shallots: 1 bunch 5 shoots $1.20
  • Sweet Potato: 2x =680g $0.68c
  • Tomatoes: 4 vine ripened =546g $0.87c
  • Zucchini: 2x= 300g $0.30c

Total: $27.39

However with a lot of Paddy's fruit and vegetables, a lot of it is slightly bruised and in some cases on it's last legs. I never buy things like tomatoes there. Things such as eggs and noodles and fresh herbs aren't bad but generally you're getting end of line produce and diving into the crowd is an experience in itself. It is however terribly cheap so you balance the crowds and potential for short shelf life F&V with price. Paddy's Markets is also only open Thursday-Sunday and we went to do our price check on Sunday afternoon, when the prices were at the lowest.

Paddys markets

Paddy's Markets

Flemington Direct: http://flemingtondirect.com.au/

Paddy's Markets: open Thursday-Sundays. Hay Street, Haymarket Sydney: http://www.paddysmarkets.com.au/