Bread half-baked? Apples almost a year old. We reveal four supermarket secrets.
The apples are old.
Who hasn’t been tempted by a fresh, juicy apple after a supermarket shop, bit into it’s crisp flesh and felt as though they had plucked the fruit straight from the top of a sun kissed tree. Well according to testing by Sydney Postharvest University, if you shop at two of Australia’s major retail food outlets, Coles or Woolworths, that juicy titbit you just bit into could be up to 10 months old. Dr Stephen Morris from the Postharvest University says that storing apples for a certain length of time is ok, but after 6 months the quality may deteriorate. “Apples can be kept for six months and they will still be of very good quality…. After nine months the quality is going to start to be affected and at 10 and 11 months you are not going to get such a good apple,” he says.
The bread has been half-baked.
Coles recently faced a lawsuit from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over the use of the slogan ‘baked today sold today’, a tagline the supermarket used to promote it’s range of gourmet breads. It turns out the ‘baked today’ part of the advertisement referred to actually finishing the baking process which began, in some cases over 6 months ago, the bread was then frozen until the day it was shipped to a Coles supermarket and was allowed to finish the baking process. In the court case Coles did admit the whole baking of the bread didn’t occur instead, but that “The bread that is baked in-store is crunchier, and smells…. of freshly baked bread. That’s what we submit it is. “Bake” and “fresh” have to be understood in the retail environment.”
Your fruit is covered in wax.
Stepping into your supermarket’s fresh produce aisle can occasionally feel like stepping into a bauble store. The vegetables and fruit are shiny and almost fluorescent in colour, lined up neatly like shining display of Christmas lights. This is because a lot of the fresh produce in stores are actually waxed to lock in moisture and prevent discoloration and bruising. Thankfully it’s non-toxic and it is easily digested, and is approved by the Australian Food and Drug administration.
They are edging at product choice.
Australian supermarkets are a place of brand freedom; you choose what you want, whether it’s a dishwashing liquid or a chocolate, from your favourite brands range. It’s about a fair chance for producers to have their wares purchased and for consumers, in kind, to purchase them. But the joy of that freedom of choice is slowly declining, with supermarkets ousting named brands and instead replacing them with their own. In an interview with BRW online, Ian McLeods, the man in charge of Coles supermarkets and liquor had this to say on the issue: “To get customers through our doors, we had to engender high levels of customer trust in our pricing and we felt [Coles] private labels at affordable prices provided an opportunity,” he says.
Photo from Pete Boyd’s Flickr photo stream.