Comparison of Fruit and Vegetable Prices between Farmers’ Markets and Supermarkets: Implications for Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Programs for Food Assistance Program Participants


Hewawitharana, S.C.; Webb, K.L.; Strochlic, R.; Gosliner, W.


This cross-sectional study was part of a larger evaluation of a fruit and vegetable (FV) incentive program for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants in California. We examined the price differences in FV to explore whether these could help explain a previously observed lack of effect of the incentive program on FV consumption. Differences by type (organic/no-spray or conventional), among a convenience sample of farmers’ markets (n = 11) and nearby supermarkets (n = 7), were assessed using Wilcoxon rank-sum tests adjusting for clustering by market. We calculated the cost of market baskets comprising recommended FV servings for a household using median prices to consider the implications of FV price differences for SNAP shoppers who use financial incentives for FV. We found that farmers’ markets primarily offered organic FV while supermarkets primarily offered conventionally grown FV. Farmers’ market prices tended to be lower than supermarkets for organic FV but higher for conventional FV. Compared to supermarkets, the market basket composed only of organic FV cost USD 16.34 less at farmers’ markets, whereas a basket comprised of a mix of conventionally and organically grown FV cost USD 3.68 more. These differences warrant further exploration; FV price and type should be considered in studies aimed at understanding the impact of SNAP financial incentive programs. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


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