The price of…

Originally, I intended to write a post today about whether it’s worth growing certain sorts of fruit and vegetables and how you should work it out. I was pondering this as I picked raspberries in the sunshine this morning. To me, raspberries are certainly worth growing – I love them and they take relatively little maintenance. However, because we have grown them for so long, I’m not entirely sure how much they cost to buy in a supermarket. My perception is that they are costly to buy and so I probably wouldn’t eat many of them if I didn’t grow them.

So, on my return from the garden, I decided to find out exactly how much raspberries do cost. I was right – they aren’t cheap ( I guess it’s related to the very careful handling that is required), but what I didn’t realise is that they distort numbers. Did you know this? The mathematics of berries is different to the mathematics we normally use. I am reminded of Douglas Adams’ bistromathics… I think I have discovered berriomathics.

Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this:

berry prices

The prices of berries

The easiest way to compare prices should be to look at the price per kilo… and that’s what I did to begin with… until I realised that, apart from all but the first one in this screen shot, none of the £/kg values correspond the the item price. For example, the organic raspberries cost £2.50 for 125g. Last time I looked, 125 went into 1000 eight times, so the price per kilo should be 8 × £2.50 = £20. But look at what the figure on the web page is: £16.67! Quite a difference. The next one down is even more wrong: 1000/225 = 4.44, so the price per kilo should be 4.44 × 2 = £8.88, but it’s quoted as £13.34. Similarly, both of the £/kg prices for the blueberries are wrong if we base them on the unit price.

Now, I have a real issue with this sort of error… it is misleading to customers, particularly anyone in a hurry who does not have time to do their own sums, but also  it’s downright careless, displaying complete contempt for numeracy.

Anyway, my conclusion is that the investment in a few raspberry canes six years ago has certainly paid off. Plus, berries are supposed to improve your memory, so they should help me remember how to calculate the best bargains next time I go shopping!

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  1. Gosh, that’s outrageous! I’ve been using those prices per kg to track the cost of what I harvest from my garden, and I confess it never occurred to me to check they were right. Shall do from now on though, and there might even be a small complaint or two if they’re not!

    Thanks 🙂

  2. Not only the ridiculous price, when you buy them they come in those tiny plastic boxes, such waste! Grrrr. That kind of packaging puts me off buying particular things. I know the berries are fragile but I just can’t stand the unnecessary plastic. 😦

    (I expect that there is some kind of advertising authority you could complain to about the deceptive pricing though)

  3. This makes my heart cry a little bit. 😦

    • Frankly, I don’t understand how the mistakes have been made… surely they have a database and such calculations are automated. It’s not as if some poor soul has to work them out on their fingers!

  4. Ah, Bistromaths, I too often have little idea of what things cost from the shops and occasionally go in to check out how much I am saving but like you am not really saving as I would not be eating them at that price.

    • I was so shocked by poor maths, I din’t get round to weighing my raspberries to work out how much I have notionally saved. They are delicious, though!

  5. I hope you have put a complaint in!

    It may sound odd given that they can be picked from the wild, but my top berry is blackberries. The best cultivated varieties (never thornless in my experience, if they are too easy never worth the bother!) are as or more tasty than wild ones, and each plant produces truly brain-boggling amounts of fruit. And for those looking at supermarket prices for them, they are for some reason as or more brain-boggling than those for raspberries..

    • I too love blackberries, but I have never bought one in my life! Every autumn we have lovely walks with out blackberrying buckets… and into the freezer they go to be enjoyed for months to come.

  6. It’s like buying a bag of apples labelled 1kg for $4.98, when 1kg of the same apples bought loose costs $5.20. No joke. Apparently we pay for the privilege of choosing which apples we get to take home…

    • Oh good grief… I try to buy loose produce to cut down on packaging but it’s not always possible. It really annoys me that in supermarkets the organic produce tends to be pre-packed, going totally against my reasons for buying it. I love our local organic food shop… loose veg and paper bags 🙂

  7. OOPS! That will teach them for hiring old numerically challenged narf to do the math won’t it? 😉 Anyhoo what price the sunshine on your back and a mouth full of perfectly ripe raspberries? I don’t think they can put a price on that experience 🙂


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