Foodmaster Prices Cheaper Than Whole Foods Prices

We price tested seven supermarkets in the eight Boston neighborhoods Patch serves. The result? Trader Joe's is cheapest (though you won't find rotisserie chicken there.)

Supermarkets — they're big news in Boston. Last year's controversy in JP when a Whole Foods replaced a Latino market led to arrests. This year, Charlestown is embroiled in a debate about Whole Foods taking over Johnnie's Foodmaster.

At the heart of these discussions is whether we, as Bostonians, will have access to affordable food.

To test prices, the Boston Patch editors each went out to various supermarkets in our respective neighborhoods on Thursday, Sept. 6. Here's our shopping list:

  • MacIntosh Apples (price per pound)
  • Bananas (price per pound)
  • Zucchini (price per pound)
  • Corn (price per pound)
  • 2% Milk (gallon)
  • Large eggs (dozen)
  • Whole rotisserie chicken
  • Box of cereal
  • Can of chicken noodle soup
  • White bread (loaf)
  • Toilet paper (six pack)

In some cases, prices had to be approximated due to some stores not carrying a specific item (in the case of Macintosh apples) or because some stores sold certain goods by the pound while other sold it by the piece.

To keep it apples-to-apples, we sought ought the cheapest available option in each store. So, yes, that excludes some of the higher-end, higher-quality organic products.

Here is the list of the supermarkets, from costliest to cheapest. Please note we had to exclude the whole rotisserie chicken because it isn't sold at Trader Joe's. If you include that item, Whole Foods becomes the most expensive store:

  1. , South End — $24.84
  2. Whole Foods, Cambridge Street, West End — $24.05
  3. , West Roxbury — $23.64
  4. , JP — $21.76
  5. , Charlestown — $20.79
  6. Shaw's Landmark Center, Fenway — $20.61
  7. , Back Bay — $18.06


Fenway Shaws Charlestown Foodmaster West End Whole Foods W. Rox Roche Brothers Back Bay Trader Joe's JP Stop & Shop South End Foodie's AVERAGE MacIntosh Apples (lb.) $1.89 $1.99 $1.99 $1.99 $1.49 $1.99 $1.79 $1.88 Bananas (lb.) $0.74 $0.79 $0.79 $0.79 $0.51 $0.69 $0.79 $0.73 Zucchini (lb.) $1.99 $1.99 $2.49 $1.99 $1.84 $1.99 $1.49 $1.97 Corn (lb.) $0.50 $0.42 $0.63 $0.63 $0.63 $0.75 $0.49 $0.58 2% Milk (gallon) $3.49 $2.79 $3.59 $3.99 $3.39 $1.69 $4.39 $3.33 Large eggs (dozen) $2.99 $1.99 $2.89 $2.49 $1.99 $2.59 $1.99 $2.42 Whole rotisserie chicken $7.99 $6.99 $9.99 $5.00

Not sold

$7.99 $8.73 $6.67 Box of cereal $3.59 $2.39 $2.50 $2.69 $1.99 $2.99 $3.89 $2.86 Can of chicken noodle soup $1.99 $0.75 $2.79 $1.99 $1.49 $2.69 $1.83 $1.93 White bread (loaf) $1.39 $2.99 $2.99 $2.39 $2.49 $1.39 $4.49 $2.59 Toilet paper (six pack) $2.04 $4.69 $3.39 $4.69 $2.24 $4.99 $3.69 $3.68 TOTAL $28.60 $27.78 $34.04 $28.64 $18.06 $29.75 $33.57 $28.63
Fenway Shaws Charlestown Foodmaster West End Whole Foods W. Rox Roche Brothers Back Bay Trader Joe's Jamaica Plain Stop & Shop South End Foodie's AVERAGE Without Prepared Chicken $20.61 $20.79 $24.05 $23.64 $18.06 21.76 $24.84 $21.96 Produce Total $5.12 $5.19 $5.90 $5.40 $4.47 5.42 $4.56 $5.15 Processed and Prepared Total $13.57 $10.13 $15.28 $9.68 $3.48 13.67 $14.45 $11.47 Milk, Eggs, Bread $7.87 $7.77 $9.47 $8.87 $7.87 5.67 $10.87 $8.34
Do not like deceit September 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I've tried to give CTown Johnnies the benefit of the doubt, but I bought a lobster roll on Wed. It was marked sell by 9/14 (Fri.) I openned it and realized it smelled a bit odd, took a furtive bite and realized it was ROT! I put it back in the fridge, so that I could return it. By Fri. the last day it could have been sold on and should have been good past that date it had so permeated the fridge with stench, I had to throw everything out. It had to be at least two weeks old at the time of purchase!!!! This is not the only time I have bought food obviously date tampered with and sold as fresh. The smell was so horrid, even in a sealed bag it reeked! One time, it could be an accident--an oversight, twice I question practices and management, three times and you're OUT! Not shopping Johnnies anymore for meats, deli or prepared foods!!!! Looking forward to WHOLE FOODS!!! Sorry you've proved yourselves and I know mine is not the only complaint on this food fresheness, date stamp accuracy issue!!!!
Owen September 16, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Toonie, There was no condescension. I was responding to the tone of several of your posts regarding the financially disadvantaged. What's interesting is that I haven't read a single post on here from a "hand out" recipient complaining that the decision on the proper grocery store for Charlestown. Those complaints have come from people who presumably just don't want Johnnies to leave. I don't classify what the financially disadvantaged receive as "hand outs" because I have never walked a mile in their shoes and can't imagined what it is like to have to survive off of government subsidies.
Owen September 16, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Negative on Walmart. No way.
Just a person! September 17, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Agree Joseph How come no talk about a white elephant in our back yard,with no input from the residents of Charlestown! BRA at its best on this one... People would rather talk about the price of food at Johnnies! Wake up people,, While we are also investigating things how about the other project that is quietly being negotiated behind our backs also, the Jack Millerick life focus site on Rutherford Ave??? Another BRA project,,
Toonie September 18, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Preach on, Owen. You're in the Coast Guard (thank you for your service, btw) and you're not a "yuppie" - we get it. I was simply responding directly to LBBs post about the consideration of those that are on Food Stamps or WIC by stating that I don't believe that considerations should drive any sort of decision one way or another. Whole Foods is a successful corporation that sees something in the locations their targeting. Simple as that. And...."walk a mile in their shoes"....what are you, the lead singer of Everlast or something?


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