Money and Markets

You could be paying 36% too much for bananas at Woolworths if you aren’t buying organic

Business Insider SA
WW banana
  • Organic produce is traditionally more expensive than the non-organic version, thanks to higher production costs and demand.
  • But things are changing, and in three cases, you'll be paying less for organic fruit and vegetables from Woolworths.
  • The organic discount is particularly stark when it comes to bananas – and not because Woolworths charges a lot for bananas either.
  • For more stories go to

If you are a price-conscious shopper, ignoring anything marked "organic" is traditionally the right move.

And that continues to be the case if you are browsing food in Woolworths – mostly. You'll pay much more for organic peanut butter than for the non-organic variety, and organic spaghetti is wildly more expensive. Organic tomato sauce, milk, and yoghurt, is a little more expensive, as are lemons and marrows.

But in four instances you'll be paying a premium – of up to 40% – if you shop non-organic at Woolworths.

Organic produce still typically costs more, Woolworths tells Business Insider South Africa, because of higher risks in production, higher costs (including the cost of being certified organic), and other factors.

See also from our archives: Free range duck fat is now far cheaper than butter in SA

"The yields in organic farming are often lower than in conventional farming and the selection of first grade produce is even lower. Often the organic farms are smaller, resulting in higher overhead cost per unit produced. Due to the limited availability of organic produce the demand is higher than supply which ultimately leads to higher prices."

Exceptions are starting to emerge, though, and there may be more in future.
"As organic farming becomes more wide spread, the prices of organic products are expected to be more in line with that of conventional products," said Woolworths.

Here's how much cheaper some organic produce is at Woolworths.

Organic bananas: 14% to 36% cheaper

Woolworths organic bananas: cheaper than non-organ

A 1.2kg box of organic bananas sells for R31.99, while the non-organic version is, at R36.99 - making the organic version 14% cheaper.

In smaller sizes the difference is even more stark: just under R18 for a 750g bag of organic bananas versus just under R28 for the usual kind, a 36% difference.

That's not price uncompetitive either; Pick n Pay also charges R17.99 for 750g of bananas.

Organic blueberries: 7% cheaper (as long as you buy small amounts)

Woolworths organic blueberries: cheaper than non-o

For 125g tubs of blueberries, you will pay R39.99 for the organic version, and R42.99 for the non-organic, making it 7% cheaper to go organic.

If you're buying in bigger quantities, though – where Woolworths has no organic option listed – that changes dramatically. At just under R80 for a 400g tub, you'll be paying the equivalent of R25 for that 125g tub, making it all but 40% cheaper.

That doesn't make Woolworths' organic blueberries particularly cheap in the broader context: if you bought your berries at R59.99 for a 350g pack from Checkers, you' be paying the equivalent of under R22 for a 125g tub.

Organic spinach: 17% to 40% cheaper (even if you are buying non-organic in "bulk")

Woolworths organic spinach: cheaper than non-organ

300g of organic spinach costs R24.99 at Woolworths. It does not have the same size back for non-organic spinach, but it doesn't matter, you'll be paying more whether you size up or size down: at 200g for R26.99 the organic pack is nearly 40% cheaper, and at R39.99 for 400g in the "bulk" spinach option will still cost you 17% more than going organic.

That doesn't mean you are getting it cheap, though. If you buy via the Checkers Sixty60 app, you'll pay R29.99 for a 400g bag of cut spinach leaf.

Organic broccoli: 13% cheaper

Woolworths organic broccoli: cheaper than non-orga

Conveniently for purposes of comparison, Woolworths sells whole broccoli by the kilogram in roughly 400g packs. Non organic that will cost you R54 per kilogram, while the organic equivalent is R47 per kilo - 13% cheaper.

Specialist retailers are considerably cheaper though; on a good day a Food Lover's Market will sell you two pre-packaged heads of broccoli for R20.

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