Many people refuse to shop at discount retailers like No Frills and FreshCo because they believe the quality of the fruits and vegetables isn’t as good as the companies’ premium stores, Loblaws and Sobeys. To find out if that was really true, we visited five Toronto grocery stores to see for ourselves.
At both the discount and premium stores, all 16 items we compared were the highest or second highest Canada or U.S. grade, which means they meet industry measures of appearance, size and consistency. Surprisingly, the apples and pears at No Frills were the highest “Canada Extra Fancy” grade, while Loblaws was selling the lower-graded “Fancy” apples—for 50 cents more per pound! Overall, the No Frills produce cost 40% less and looked as fresh as the same items in the premium stores.
Our findings weren’t a surprise to Andreas Boecker, associate professor in food, agricultural and resource rconomics at the University of Guelph. “Quite often there is not much or no quality difference between the premium and the discount banner,” he says.