Price Comparison – great value vegbox

In a moment of procrastination I decided to weigh out all the veg in today’s Summer box, and compare the cost with how much I would have had to spend in the supermarkets to get the same produce.

I visited the online shopping sites of Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, and created a shopping basket to resemble the summer box as closely as possible. In each case I included delivery – £5 for Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, and £4.50 for Tesco (cheapest options).
Here are the results:
Waitrose, £28.13. I could not source organic basil leaves or organic radish, so non-organic prices were used. I could not source Red Chard, so the closest I could find was spinach, for the purposes of costing. There were 60 grams less broad beans, and 50 grams more radish.

Sainsbury’s, £27.48. Broad beans and basil were non-organic. The spring onions were 20g lighter, the spinach 40g lighter, the mushrooms 70g lighter, and not portabella but white field mushrooms. There were more broad beans, though: 500g instead of 360g in the summer box. Again, chard wasn’t available so I substituted spinach.

Tesco, c£26.00. Couldn’t be more precise as I couldn’t source broad beans or chard, and the courgettes didn’t show a weight, but I got to £23.84 substituting spinach for chard, and by including a 3-pack of courgettes (there were also 3 in the summer box), and leaving out broad beans entirely as I couldn’t think of a suitable replacement. The tomatoes were 100g lighter, the mushrooms 70g lighter, the radish 50g lighter, the basil 25g heavier, spring onion 25g heavier than the summer box items. Basil, spring onion and radish not organic.

The Riverswale box at £12.96 delivered (inc debit card charge) is fab value, before you even consider the better quality produce, and even if you forget the delivery charges of the supermarkets.

I look forward to next week’s box.
David (River Swale customer)

21 responses to “Price Comparison – great value vegbox

  1. I was interested in the price comparison piece but for me there are other considerations of equal importance to price. I think I’ve become a veggie box junky – if there is such a thing. I love that my box is cheaper, more interesting and tastier than anything I’ve ever bought in supermarkets and I’m ecstatic that I can re-use or compost the packaging and that there is just much less of it! Also the business of actually visiting a supermarket has become so depressing. I hate huge trolleys, I hate the number of carrier bags people seem to use gleefully, making no effort to reuse bags. Ok, I forget my bags occasionally but then I force everything I buy into one carrier bag whether it fits or not, or I look for a box. What has happened to all the spare boxes they used to have in Supermarkets? The best thing about getting my box delivered by far is that I don’t have to stand in queues and I don’t have to make conversation with a check-out person when I’m tired or listen to the automated voice telling me where to collect my small change. My box is just waiting for me on the front porch when I come home from work. Once when it had been raining all day, my box was full of giant slugs which was a bit off-putting and they all had to be peeled off and put outside again, but even that is a very small price to pay for my weekly veggie fix!

  2. I love my box too. I love the fact that I can order from week to week and I appreciate the variety, freshness and efficiency of the delivery service. I am not that bothered about the contents being organic but I reckon I can’t beat what I get for value and quality from anywhere else and intuitively I think organic must be best . I spend a lot of time in Italy where vegetables are a source of joy and I was always sad to return home not least because the local supermarket could only offer me highly packaged dull vegetables. I now return with glee knowing that I will be getting my box delivered. Many thanks to all involved.

  3. Does anyone know why A.A. Gill dislikes the organic movement so much?

  4. I’d be interested in getting a veg box, but there is no way for me to compare the price of what I buy in a supermarket with what I’d get in a veg box. What does suitable for 2-4 people mean? You don’t know how much fruit I eat.

    Give us more details – quantities or weights – and even if they cannot be precise, or the same every week, at least we would have some idea.

    I need more information before I change my shopping habits. For all I know I might get 2 bananas, 2 apples, and a kiwi fruit for my £12.

  5. Solar Powered Hosting

    It annoys the hell out of me when the supermarkets shout from the rooftops that their prices cannot be beaten. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that organic food sourced locally can easily compete with the supermarket scum. We get a mini box from Riverford at £8.35 and that’ll do us for most of the week. I can’t remember when I last visited the Tesco house of horrors!

  6. I think it may a bit disingenuous to include the whole delivery charge from the supermarkets. After all, they also sell many other things, and it is unlikely that anyone would not also buy their meat, bread, washing powder, etc at the same time as their veggies. I think a more robust comparison would be to take the delivery off both the veg box, and the supermarket basket. Also, when weighing the veg box content, did you wash all the produce and remove roots and leaves like would happen in the supermarket produce?
    Just two points that a Supermarket spin-doctor would use to rubbish these claims….

    Thanks to Robert Day for his observations regarding our price comparisons against supermarket organic produce. It is important to reiterate that all data is calculated exclusive of delivery charges! The ‘mud/root /leaves’ issue could potentially be misconstrued as disingenuous, and so we always compare like with like, e.g. bunched carrot, leek and beetroot with foliage. On balance we are confident that mud represents such a small percentage of our box weights that it is largely insignificant. We appreciate that scientific/mathematical purists may argue these points so, wherever possible, great pains are taken during these comparisons to eliminate any grey areas.

  7. Claire Robinson

    I find it astonishing that the media keep trotting out the anti-organic lobby’s claims that organic food is elitist and only for rich people. I’ve eaten organic from the Riverford veg box scheme when living on a minuscule income and it is so much cheaper than supermarket stuff, not to mention fresher and more varied. People who tell me they can’t afford to eat organic just look at me blankly when I tell them what my veg box, which feeds two greedy people each week, costs. Why can’t they get it? brainwashing or what?

  8. I agree with Robert to a degree about the delivery charge but I have to take issue in regards to the removal of roots and leaves.

    I had the misfortune to buy a brocolli from Sainsburys last week and the stalk was easily more than half of the weight. The fact that it was well past it’s best just two days later says something as well. I wasted half of it for that reason alone. It’s not the first time something like that has happened.

    The above comparison may not be perfect but if you take everything in to account I reckon Riverford wins hands down.

  9. With referance to Toms supermarket broccoli I have historically always broken of that weighty stalk and left it behind………Has someone done a meat comparison?

  10. I’ve been having vege boxes for over a year and I wouldn’t go back to supermarket vege or fruit even if I was destitute. Why wrap a banana in shrink wrap it comes with its own packaging, why wrap 4 organic oranges in a Styrofoam box and a plastic bag. I am very conscious of how much waste we all produce. The vege box doesn’t come with extra bags we don’t need and even if it does I send them back for reuse and it isn’t going into land fill.

    I also love the variety and having to phone my mum and go what is this weird broccoli! It makes me eat better to. Keep it up and well done Riverford and all your producers.

  11. I,m very new to this and have only had 2 boxes so far but I’m hooked already. It’s such fun not having to make a shopping list and enjoying the surprise of what I find in my box. I definitely spend less on fruit and veg than I did at Sainsburys and the quantity is more and the taste better. Jimmy’s programme got me going. so hope you have lots more new customers like me.

  12. A day or two ago I filled in your survey. One of the questions concerned the effect of the “Credit Crunch” on buying organic. The first choice answer had a rider to the effect that “I don’t find organic veg more expensive. This I do not agree with. I think that organic costs 20-50% more. Then I read the blog with a summer box price comparison against supermarket organic prices. I had already decided to carry out my own survey, using last week’s small box. The results are as follows, using the ‘Extras’ price list (smallest quantities) and the small box weights.

    Riverford Supermarket (Tesco)
    Tomatoes 450 gm £1.61 £1.34
    Mushrooms 250gm £1.80 £1.49
    Sweetcorn 3 heads £2.60 £2.22
    Pointed Cabbage 1 £1.39 £1.29
    Calabrese 2
    2.40 £1.59
    Onions 500gm 95p 64p
    Carrots 550gm 75p 70p
    Potatos 1250gm £1.80 £1.60

    Total price for Riverford using ‘extras’ = £13.30
    Rverford box price = £10.45

    Supermarket price = £10.67

    All the prices are adjusted to match the weights in the small veg box. I hope they don’t come out scrambled when printed in the blog! I really cannot see where David gets his supermarket prices from.
    I should also add that this week the carrots in my small box weighed a measly 300gm.
    I am not an apologist for the supermarkets, I have many gripes sbout them, but I do think they offer good value in general.
    I don’t think that Riverford is as wonderful as some of the comments suggest. Nevertheless I shall continue to buy from Riverford because I want to buy organic and I want to buy local. I don’t mind if some veg comes from River Nene as that is my district of origin!

  13. Further to my comment above, Riverford have agreed that 300gm of carrot was an error and have kindly offered a compensating item in my next delivery. Thank you Riverford.

  14. I wholeheartedly agree with most of the above, Maggie’s comments, in particular.

    It’s the quality of supermarket veg/fruit, more than anything. I am fed-up with rock-hard peaches which turn straight to rotting, extremely hard-skinned apples , tasteless carrots or skinny beans (!) grown in Africa of all places. So I am very happy to put up with some mud.

    The only thing some people say about the price comparison is the choice they don’t have in the box. Some of those have children who won’t eat what is in the box and give the parents grief.
    I wonder what the outcome of the comparison would be, if you selected the items individually for the minimum order value of £12.50? Any idea?

  15. I’ve only had a couple of veg box deliveries so far but have been overwhelmed with the quality of the items, they’re so tasty and fresh (something the supermarkets can never compare with), but to top it all they’re so Eco too – something I’m on my soap box a lot about these days. In fact I’ve cut the supermarket out of my shopping completely now 🙂
    Keep up the good work all at RiverFord. You’ve found yourselves a very loyal customer here!!

  16. Yesterday I received my 4th small veg box from River Swale and have to say that I am delighted once again. Whilst I have already looked to see what I am getting I still find it exciting to check the contents. I really do have to think about what meals I am going to prepare and find the recipes absolutely great.
    I have read through the recent remarks above about prices and can confirm today that I have just checked my box contents with Organic produce at Sainsburys via online and the cost excluding delivery came out at £10.09 which makes our delivered veg box a bargain. I find that the small box is great for 2 people just enough to enable me to produce a variety of dishes. Organic vegetables, locally produced and delivered to my door – fantastic I am now converted well done to you all.

  17. I messed up the ordering this time round and had to buy everything from the supermarket. It was really depressing. And the bill? £120. Thats obviously not fruit and veg. But supermarkets work hard to tempt you to buy things. Its very hard without the powerful analytics software supermarket chains use to work out how much spur of the moment shopping adds to my monthly bills. But I’m sure I spend less on other stuff if I get all my veg delivered.

  18. Just to say Thank you for the marmalade kit ,just added sugar and my grandmother’s recipe -which differed only slightly from the one you provided- and I have 11 lbs. of lovely marmalade. I bought two packs so have some more to make this weekend when I have begged enough jars to put it in.
    The only thing is I give so much away–everyone wants a taste!!

  19. I’ve long been sure that Riverford is both better quality (obvious) but also better value than the supermarkets. Frankly, I’ve often wondered how a (medium/large) Riverford box would compare with supermarket poisonous. I wouldn’t be surprised if Riverford came out cheaper. Even if one discounts the extra vitamin and mineral supplements needed to make up the true comparison, along with the extra health costs of eating the poisonous.

    I do so like my quality, tasty, cheap veg from Riverford….

  20. The thing about the leafs that come with e.g. beet root is that you can eat them also. They make a nice extra to your regular salad.

    I also love the surprise that the box brings with it. It’s like getting a present from somebody, I almost run home from uni on the delivery day to see what I got this week.

    And that brings me to the issue of price. I am a student living on my loan and income from a part-time job, no money from parents or anyone else, and I still manage to afford organic. It may mean one less drunken night out per week, but it is definetly worth that.

    What comes to children not beeing able to eat some of the vegs in the box: maybe it is time to teach them to try new things. My mother always insisted on us trying everything at least a few times, and I’ve always been able to eat about everything that is normally considered to be edible.

    And for those who still are not convinced of the quality and value the boxes offer, just order one, you’ll only loose about a tenner if it turns out to be ‘ 2 bananas, 2 apples, and a kiwi’.

  21. Greg the Veg Monster

    What do you mean, children don’t like the fruit and veg (Gert)? We (3 brothers) have a race home from school on Tuesdays to get to the fruit box first. My mum makes Green Alien soup (any random greens) , Martian soup (Tomato), Squashed Alien brain (mushroom) and Sunshine Slop (Butternut) to make sure we DO eat our veg. It is very tasty and we love seeing what comes every week. Our favourite is ‘Shrekocolli’ (romanesco).

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