We're frequently - and rightly - encouraged to add more fruit and veggies into our diets. But stocking up on produce that helps you meet your five-a-day doesn't exactly come cheap.
For starters, they've never been the most affordable items in your basket, and even more so now with the rising cost of living causing prices on supermarket shelves to grow higher across the board (which, unfortunately, wasn't tackled in the Government's recent food strategy).
However, a new study has suggested the odds are stacked against our fruit and veg intake even more than we thought. Research by Which?, the non-profit organisation focused on protecting consumers, found that confusing pricing on certain basic supermarket items is actually causing you to shell out more at the till.
As well as products like semi-skimmed milk, Weetabix and Dairy Milk chocolate, there were two stalwarts of the fresh produce section that they found are regularly labelled in such a way that shoppers - like you - often end up over-paying. Which isn't ideal if you're trying to give your kitchen cupboards a nutritious upgrade in a cost-effective way (talking of which, meal prepping can help if you're on a budget).
The items in question were pears and tomatoes - with the study finding that, depending on the pack size or variety, they may be priced individually, per pack or per kilogram. This meant that comparing different prices was much harder for shoppers, who also faced the added confusion of the terms used to describe them. For example, the researchers highlighted how at M&S 'each' was used to refer to a single pear and also a pack of four pears.
So, what's the big deal? Well, they discovered that this can actually have a significant impact on your grocery bill. This was evidenced by the Coca-Cola options ar Twsco where 17 different cans and bottles of the drink in various sizes were priced between 11p and 50p per 100ml. It meant that someone buying four 250ml bottles for £5 was spending 345 per cent - almost four times as much - more per 100ml than another person who opted for a 1.5 litre bottle costing £1.68.
To come to their conclusion that shoppers find it difficult to identify which items are best value while browsing supermarket shelves, Which? monitored the prices of ten popular items. They visited some of the biggest supermarkets including Asda, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco over a period of three months.
According to law, supermarkets should display both a selling price and, if appropriate, a unit price for food and drink products - which is increasingly important. Speaking to The Times, Sue Davies, head of food policy at Which?, said: 'At a time when food prices are a huge concern, unit pricing can be a useful tool for shoppers to compare and choose the cheapest groceries but unclear supermarket pricing means the vast majority of people are left struggling to find the best deal.'
Short on time? Another easy way to pack in your five-a-day, without the headache of heading to the shops, is by ordering a vegetarian or vegan recipe box - we've served up some rather affordable options. Thank us later...
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