185484 Methods to compare fruit and vegetable prices in low-income neighborhood stores with county level retail scanner data

Monday, October 27, 2008: 11:45 AM

Alyssa Ghirardelli, MPH, RD , California Department of Public Health, Network for a Healthy California, Sacramento, CA
Valerie Quinn, MEd , California Department of Public Health, Network for a Healthy California, Sacramento, CA
Ellen Feighery, RN, MS , Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA
Sharon Sugerman, MS, RD , Research & Evaluation Unit, Network for a Healthy California, California Department of Public Health, Sacramento, CA
The cost of fruit and vegetables can be a barrier to purchase and consumption for low-income individuals and families, however local variability of prices could potentially make addressing this barrier through community level initiatives challenging. The California Department of Public Health's Cancer Prevention and Nutrition Section Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention (CX3) project uses food environment data to inform action in local health departments to empower community members and improve local conditions. Five sites used tools and methods for selected neighborhood nutrition indicators. Each site worked within 3-7 low-income neighborhoods of 1-5 census tracts each. Grocery store surveys collected data from various types of food markets in 18 neighborhoods. Data collection included prices for seven commonly found fruits and vegetables. To evaluate if prices were excessive in neighborhood stores, a method to create a local comparison price was developed using retail scanner data by county from large chain supermarkets. Data was purchased from a vendor specializing in grocery perishables. From scanner data obtained during the same weeks pricing data was collected in the field, a comparison price was developed for each type of produce item using the lowest price free-weight options of items with the highest purchase volumes. A ten percent margin of error was added to create a “reasonable price”. Prices collected in the field were then compared to the county “reasonable price.” The comparisons were shared with local stakeholders to determine if prices for fruits and vegetables in local low-income neighborhood stores were a barrier that should be addressed with merchants, community leaders or policy makers. Pricing comparisons for the group as a whole were additionally analyzed at the state level to discuss current conditions in pricing of fruits and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods and to inform development of future statewide policy and initiatives. Preliminary findings from 141 stores surveyed show 64% selling produce. Pricing collected in 84 stores reveal that out of 364 priced items, 86% were at or below the “reasonable price” indicating that, when produce is available, prices do not appear to be excessively higher than county averages.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the California Department of Public Health’s Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention (CX3) model. 2. Gain insight into methods to create a comparison price for fruit and vegetable pricing data. 3. Consider implications that price may not present an excessive barrier to consumption of fruits and vegetables when available in low-income neighborhoods.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Community Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have experience in community-based research related to the food environment through statewide initiatives.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.