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May 18, 2014 02:26 AM

Have Co-op Produce Prices Risen Astronomically, or Am I Just Noticing?

Went to Linden Hills and noticed that most produce was at least a dollar more per pound or unit than at Whole Foods.

It seems to me that Linden Hills prices rose once they moved - on every item. I only go to The Wedge when I need spices (and only in the early morning since getting in and out of that parking lot is sheer madness). Since I rarely buy produce there, I have not compared prices.

I realize Whole Foods is not at all in the model of co-operative buying and that I am comparing apples to appaloosas. Still, I was surprised at the difference.

Food prices are rising. Just wondering if co-ops are the leading edge of the rise.

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  1. I shop at the Seward and haven't noticed a big difference, but I wonder if the time of year might be an issue. At the co-ops locally grown produce is cheaper when it's abundant, and right now nothing is abundant.

    1. Mississippi Market member here who also shopped at Seward recently. I guess I haven't noticed anything unusual lately. I don't shop at WF (madness in a second form at the St. Paul location) so I can't compare.

      LiaM makes a good point about this being at a bad time of year for local produce

      1. The reason that produce and everything is higher at Co-ops is that most are certified organic.That means separate everything, also contributing is the amount of staff, no commercial venue would staff a store like Co-ops do. There also was troubles in Mexico, frost in Florida, and drought in California.

        1. Food costs have gone up across the board, we've noticed it. However, we find that Linden Hills and the Wedge are consistently significantly more expensive that other co-ops. We shop at Seward, so if we have to run to Linden Hills for something (as it is closer) we usually get a bit of sticker shock.

          3 Replies
          1. re: forgottendreamr

            Interesting, as I find the Wedge's produce to be cheaper on average than Seward. Sometimes significantly so. I asked at the register at the Wedge once, and they said they own the organic produce distributor that serves all the coops, so they are usually cheaper.

            1. re: jaycooke

              Wedge is an impressive empire. They are way cheaper than my local Mississippi.

              1. re: jaycooke

                Makes sense. Though, when we shop, we rarely get just produce. The steeper bill might be due to periphery products that we are buying at the same time.

            2. Might you be comparing organic prices (co-ops) to non-organic? Much of Whole Food's produce is definitely non-organic.

              I find Seward's prices to be (justifiably) on the high side, but definitely lower than Whole Foods and Byerly's (who has a pitifully small selection of organic produce). I don't compare Seward's prices with the Wedge, because I go to The Wedgie for things I can't find at Seward.

              7 Replies
              1. re: AnneInMpls

                Nope, at least in that I am comparing organic to organic. For instance $4.99 per pound for organic red peppers to $6.99 a pound (and under a dollar per pepper at Trader Joe's - which is not by weight, but still much cheaper).

                1. re: MplsM ary

                  I have stopped in at Linden Hills a couple of times since they moved, and have been taken aback at the difference between their prices and those at Mississippi Market.

                  But you've made me curious to compare produce at Mississippi Market & the St. Paul Whole Foods. I would size up organics, but am also interested whether they differ for local vs. non, and across country of origin.

                  1. re: KTFoley

                    Well, that is one big difference. Much of Whole Foods organic produce comes from Mexico.

                    1. re: MplsM ary

                      For much of the year, so does all of the co-ops.

                    2. re: KTFoley

                      My experience at the St. Paul WF is that, even in season, it carries less local produce than Miss Market. And a surprising amount of WF produce is conventionally-grown.

                      1. re: KTFoley

                        Yep, yep, all of that matches my own experience in scrutinizing produce options across the seasons and among the stores. My limited aim here is a like-for-like comparison to answer the price question for Whole Foods vs. a co-op (Mississippi Market).

                        If anyone else wants to make the same study for their own produce purchases, let's come on back and post them when we're done.

                        Prices vary a lot as the growing season progresses, so any data for meaningful comparisons would have to be gathered within days of one another.

                        1. re: KTFoley

                          The Wedge supplies Whole Foods with some produce and pre-made stuff.