A UNIVERSITY student has urged households to shop smarter after discovering a "big discrepancy" in the cost of fruit and vegetables at a Bundaberg fruit shop compared to one of the supermarket giants.
Health promotions student Diane Moller compared the cost of six fruit and vegetable products at both Beemart and Woolworths, and was shocked to learn the former was about $17 less expensive for her total shop.
The biggest difference were roma tomatoes, listed for $6/kg at Woolworths and only $1.70/kg at Beemart.
Pink lady apples were $3.50/kg more expensive at Woolies, which was also about $2.05/kg more expensive for pumpkin.
"This is a big discrepancy in regional Bundaberg," Mrs Moller said.
Mrs Moller said what prompted her to do the comparison was a conversation she overheard in Woolworths about the cost of apples.
"They said 'no, I can't afford them'," she said.
"We are in Bundaberg - we're not in Mt Isa or another place you would expect the cost of fruit and vegetables to be much higher."
The NewsMail visited Woolworths and Coles yesterday to compare their current prices with Beemart and, for the majority of the products, it was cheaper to shop at the smaller, locally run business.
Mrs Moller said it was all about making wise choices about where to shop.
"I'm not saying don't shop at the big supermarkets - you just have to shop smarter," she said.
"You often hear people say 'bananas are $12 per kilo'.
"Don't have a banana - have a pear that is $1.50 per kilo."
Mrs Moller said it was no secret Bundaberg had high obesity rates and was a low socio-economic city.
"It is not surprising some people may be reluctant to buy fruit and vegetables when it is clear that the prices (from supermarkets) would be prohibitive for many people in our community," she said.
"It's better to shop smart and buy fruit and vegetables than not being able to afford them and not buy many."
Mrs Moller, who is passionate about health, said not to discount smaller stores when going out to buy fruit and vegetables.
"Don't assume if it's a service station or small corner shop that it's going to be dearer," she said.
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers chair Geoff Chivers said supermarkets set their own prices.
"Fruit and vegetable growers are price takers - we don't make the price," he said.
"It's the consumer and supermarkets that set the price."
Beemart chose not to comment about why its prices were much cheaper than the supermarket giants.