Reporters visited eight grocery stores in the south side neighborhoods of Clarke Square, Burnham Park, Layton Park and Silver City, the north side neighborhood of Lindsay Heights and one comparison store in Shorewood to gather price information for 35 healthy food items. Ultimately, 22 items were chosen because they could be directly compared across stores. The list (see end of story) was made up of half fresh fruits and vegetables, and half grains, dairy products, meat and canned goods, consistent with new federal dietary guidelines.
After the prices were determined for comparable items at each store, NNS calculated two basket prices: one with chicken and one without, because the survey included a fruit market that does not sell poultry (see graphic). For that market, a price including chicken was calculated by adding the average price of chicken in the other stores to its total price for the other 21 items.
NNS found that residents in the five sample communities could purchase nutritious food in their neighborhoods within a small range of prices. There were two notable exceptions, however: Aldi, 1441 S. 35th St. in Layton Boulevard West, had the least expensive basket price by far, and Target, at 1501 Miller Park Way, had a significantly higher-priced basket, due to higher costs for produce and chicken. The basket price at the comparison store in Shorewood also was near the average for the eight neighborhood stores, a finding supported by research on food prices across socio-economic boundaries.
Told about the results of the survey, West Milwaukee Target store manager Aimee Zembruski noted that the produce section is relatively new. The Target was remodeled in January to accommodate fresh produce, part of a corporate program that started last year in Chicago and Philadelphia, and will continue in Wisconsin through next year.
“We’re new to the produce game,” said Zembruski. “Target ‘competitive shops’ our local competitors, but we’re just starting to get there with produce.” She noted, however, that “six of the top 10 items that we’re selling now are new produce products.”
The 22 products included in the analysis were: apples, bananas, grapes, potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, red peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, oatmeal, orange juice, long-grain white rice, brown rice, canned sweet corn, black beans, canned pineapple, whole-wheat bread, chicken breast, skim milk and lowfat yogurt.
Contributing: Dwayne Burtin, Jen Janviere, Jennifer Jorgensen, Yiting Mao, Sharon McGowan, Edgar Mendez, Sue Vliet and Andrea Waxman.