Thursday, July 28, 2016

At Walmart, high food prices and low wages pave the road to fat profits

From bananas to wild-caught sockeye salmon, food prices at Walmart in Teterboro are higher than at the Costco Wholesale across the parking lot and on par with ShopRite in Paramus. 


I've been boycotting Walmart stores for years after reading workers are paid so little that many have to apply for food stamps or other government assistance to make ends meet.

On Tuesday, I finally spent a little time in the huge Walmart in the Teterboro Landing Shopping Center, looking at food prices and comparing them to Costco Wholesale, ShopRite and H Mart, the three stores I rely on most.

The food section of the Walmart off of Route 46 in Teterboro resembles a traditional supermarket. 

I didn't walk down every aisle and look at every item.

But after hearing for years about Walmart's "low prices," I was surprised to see that most of the food I looked at was priced higher than at the Costco across the parking lot.

For example, Walmart charges 58 cents for a pound of conventionally grown bananas, so 3 pounds would cost $1.74, compared to $1.39 for the same 3 pounds at Costco.

Costco also offers 3 pounds of organic bananas for $1.99. 

Workers at Costco and ShopRite belong to unions, which are unheard of at Walmart.

Of course, to shop at Costco you are required to pay an annual membership fee of $55 or more, but you can recoup that two or three times over from cash rebates at gas stations, restaurants, and purchases at Costco and other stores.

Walmart in Teterboro resembles a traditional supermarket, and many signs are in English and Spanish.

A pint of blueberries at Walmart was a high $2.64 on Tuesday, compared to $1.99 at H Mart in Little Ferry (a pint weighs about 12 ounces). The Teterboro Costco had 32-ounce containers of New Jersey Blueberries for $4.99.

At Walmart, 1 pound of Organic Spring Mix was $5.98 on Tuesday, above and below, compared to 1 pound of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix for $4.49 at the Costco across the parking lot.

Both Costco and ShopRite offer organic ground beef for less than what Walmart charges.

A half-gallon of Walmart's brand of lactose-free milk is 1 penny less than the regular price for ShopRite's brand of lactose-free milk.

Fresh wild sockeye salmon was $14.84 a pound at Walmart on Tuesday, compared to $9.99 a pound at the Costco in the same shopping center.

Walmart's fresh halibut was $23.94 a pound, significantly higher than at Costco.

Walmart has a far more limited selection of fresh fish than Costco.

At Walmart, a 1-pound box of Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti, made from 100% whole wheat, was $1.18, but at ShopRite, you can buy 1 pound of Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti from Italy for only 11 cents more. And the 1-pound box of Whole Grain Penne on the shelf above costs more than a 1-pound package of imported Organic Whole Wheat Penne at ShopRite.

A 59-ounce container of Tropicana Orange Juice, right, costs more at Walmart than at Costco.

Before I started shopping at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro on Tuesday afternoon, I had a large cup of non-fat vanilla yogurt from the food court ($1.35), and sat near two workers from Walmart who had come over for lunch. When they left, they didn't bother cleaning up their table, above.

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