Do fruit vans really offer cheapest deals

By Amy McGillivray

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There's nothing more summery than roadside fruit trucks but they are not always the cheapest way to go.

There are bargains to be had but your local fruit and veggie store is definitely worth a visit.

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend visited Mount Fresh Fruit, a roadside fruit truck on Maranui St, Arataki, New World and Pak'n'Save to find out who was offering the best value for money.

With kitchen scales in hand this reporter set out to weigh bags of fruit sold at the roadside trucks to work out where really was cheapest.

Watermelons, apples and avocados were cheapest at the fruit truck but apricots and plums were far cheaper at Mount Fresh Fruit.

Sweetcorn was going cheap with 10 ears for $5 at both.

The contest for nectarines and peaches was close but Mount Fresh Fruit was a little cheaper.

Buying fresh produce while getting the groceries at Mount Maunganui New World and Cameron Rd Pak'n'Save may be more convenient but you pay the price.

The produce compared were all more expensive at two supermarkets.

Mount Fresh Fruit owner operator Geeta Sharma said those stopping to buy produce at the roadside trucks were being fooled.

"I've got exactly the same things here. The trucks are second grade. I've got first grade produce here for the exact same price."

She questioned the council's logic in issuing permits to the mobile traders as it provided more competition for permanent businesses who had more overheads to cover and strict health and safety regulations.

"I don't know if the stalls are doing anybody any good ... I don't know what the council's doing."

The Mr Fruity trucks stationed on Maranui St, Maunganui Rd and by Memorial Park on Devonport Rd are set up and run by Kiwi Growers Direct.

Tauranga-based grower and owner of the company Corey Ramage said he had been selling fruit on the roadside every summer for about eight years.

"We grow avocado ourselves so that's how we initially started it. We grow other things as well. We have friends in the Hawkes Bay so they send stuff up."

The fruit sold at stalls was not export quality washed, waxed and stickered produce as that was not the clientele the stalls were aiming for, he said.

"We can give really affordable fruit to the public. A lot of the custom we get is a lot of an impulse thing. It's convenient," he said. "I think it's part of the Bay of Plenty and because we have been doing it for so many years people expect that we'll be doing it every year."

Mr Ramage argued the fruit sold from the vans was as good or better quality than could be brought from fruit shops.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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