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Is the Price of Milk Different on Your Block?
October 4th, 2007

In attempt to assess the disparities in prices at various stores around the city, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer reached out to his listeners and had them go to stores and see how much it cost for a six pack of Budweiser beer, a quart of regular, non-organic milk and a head of iceberg lettuce.

The biggest difference in price was in beer. A D’Agastino in Murray Hill charged the most for beer at $10.99, while a place on Grand Street in the Lower East Side charged the lowest at $4.99. The biggest difference in lettuce is $2.29 versus $1.29. $2.59 was the highest paid for milk versus 99 cents for milk in the Lower East Side.

Supermarkets were not only usually cheaper than delis, the prices were much more stable. This is particularly problematic, Lehrer notes, because many supermarkets shun low income neighborhoods.

The highest price for all three items at a deli was $12.92 East Village Farms versus $8.47 at Golden Farms in Kensington, Brooklyn. The highest supermarket — a ShopRite in Bloomfield New Jersey — charged $8.87 at versus $7.47 at the Fine Fare on the Lower East Side.

Lehrer based his results on the first 100 responses.

One of his guests, Tracy Shelton, consumer attorney at NYPIRG, said, “Very nearby locales having such a disparity in price” is “unfair and predatory to the people who shop there.”

By on October 4, 2007, 11:43 am
In category: Demographics,Economy | 5 Comments »

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5 Responses to “Is the Price of Milk Different on Your Block?”

  1. Larry Littlefield Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 7:49 am

    “This is particularly problematic, Lehrer notes, because many supermarkets shun low income neighborhoods.”

    Wrong. Supermarkets are large buildings, and sites large enough to accomodate them aren’t generally available on local commercial streets. There are such sites in nearby manufacturing districts, but in order to protect the market share of smaller, higher-priced stores, the city’s policy is to keep such new stores out by requiring them to go through a two-year public review process.

    The City Council endorsed this approach in 1996, by rejecting a proposal to allow larger stores to locate on wide streets in manufacturing districts.

    High-end grocers such as Fairway and Whole Foods seem to be able to survive this in some cases. Not so lower-margin grocers trying to move into less well heeled areas.

  2. Amanda Hickman Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 9:41 am

    City Limits has had some great coverage of this issue. A few years ago they produced a map that showed how access to grocery stores and fresh food varied dramatically across the city.

  3. Larry Littlefield Says:
    October 5th, 2007 at 11:03 am

    I’d say the best we can hope for is that Tesco brings its “Fresh and Easy” urban store format to New York, since no local entreprenuer is likely to overcome the obstacles thrown in their way.

    However, a few campaign contributions from the incumbents might result in rules that once again keep new players out.

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