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    Rusty's Markets versus the supermarkets giants

    Supermarkets might be convenient, but what's the real cost of shopping there?

    Last year, our online site TropicNow compared popular fruit and vegetable items at Rusty's Markets, Coles and Woolworths to find an answer.

    In this edition, we present an update on six popular shopping basket items.

    While this exercise wasn't an exact science - there are factors such as daily specials, discounts, and the origin of the produce to consider - it did provide a clear snapshot of two very different shopping experiences.

    Read on to discover the surprising results.


    Tropical North Queensland is Australia's largest banana producing region, and the fruit remains one of the nation's favourites – second only to apples as the biggest seller.

    Tropic Tip: There are so many varieties of locally grown bananas at Rusty's you'll find them on most stalls at the markets. We're partial to the smaller, sweeter sugar banana, but the ever-popular Cavendish is readily available.

    $1.80/kg at Rusty's
    $2.50/kg at supermarket

    WINNER: Rusty's Markets


    Just like paw paws, there are myriad varieties and a range of local farmers offering tomatoes at Rusty's Markets.

    The supermarkets prefer their tomatoes to be firmer and sturdier to withstand the rigours of packaging and transport, whereas you can find some amazing shapes and sizes - and of course flavours - at Rusty's.

    Tropic tip: We love the Happy Tomatoes grown on Phil and Janetta's farm and sold at their stall on the Spence St side of Rusty's, while you'll also find the type of sweet cherry tomatoes that kids will eat like lollies.

    $2.50/kg at Rusty's
    $5.90/kg at supermarkets

    WINNER: Rusty's Markets


    The Tablelands is home to potato farmers, and we love nothing more than buying locally. Just like tomatoes and bananas, you'll find a far wider variety and selection of potatoes at Rusty's compared to the supermarkets.

    Tropic tip: the kipfler potato variety is one of our favourites, and when they’re par-boiled and finished on a grill they make a superb accompaniment to any BBQ meal.

    $1.50/kg at Rusty’s
    $3.00/kg at supermarkets

    WINNER: Rusty’s Markets


    Some farmers on the Tablelands grow capsicums, which they sell direct to consumers at Rusty's. You'll also find a greater variety there, while supermarkets tend to sell the standard bell pepper variety.

    Tropic tip: Try the sweet chili variety grown and sold by Phil and Janetta at their long-running stall at Rusty's - they're along the wall at the Spence St end of the markets.

    $3.99/kg at Rusty’s
    $3.50/kg at supermarkets

    WINNER: Supermarket


    Given the extent of local avocado growers, some of whom sell direct to consumers at Rusty's Markets, this really is an unfair contest.

    The supermarkets just can't compete with locally grown, direct from the farmer sales when it comes to avocados. We think the cheap prices of avo's at Rusty's should be part of a marketing campaign to millennials in capital cities – why live with expensive houses and avocados in Sydney or Melbourne when you can live in Cairns and have both!

    Tropic tip: There are numerous local farmers selling their avo's (or those from nearby farmers) at Rusty's, but make sure you take a look around to find the best deal.

    We recently grabbed them for 50 cents each, while friends in capital cities down south paid $3 each on the same day!

    Various offers such as 4 for $2 at Rusty's

    $3 each at supermarkets

    WINNER: Rusty's Markets


    A favourite local fruit that will grow just about anywhere in the tropics, including many backyards. Rusty's has a range of different paw paw varieties, while the supermarkets generally sell just one option.

    Tropic tip: We like the red variety of paw paw grown by Skybury's and sold at spots like the Real Foods stall, but there are other great locally grown paw paws at other stalls too.


    $2.00/kg at Rusty's (Yellow paw paw)

    $2.90/kg at supermarkets (Yellow paw paw)

    $5.90/kg at supermarkets (Red paw paw)


    WINNER: Rusty's Markets


    Rusty's Markets

    Sure, there will always be a place for big supermarket chains, particularly for seven days a week convenience and grabbing those everyday items beyond the fruit and veggie section.

    But there's no denying Rusty's Markets is the superior spot to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Apart from the cheaper prices, it supports local farmers too. Win-win, we say.