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Greenwash Alert: Lucky Supermarkets Announce Indoor Farmers Markets

| Monday July 13th, 2009 | 8 Comments

Lucky%20Supermarket.jpg As I listened to the radio yesterday evening, enjoying the warm summer evening in my suburban Bay Area neighborhood, an interest commercial came on, nestled somewhere in between the ad for the cell phone carriers and the dating website. Lucky Supermarkets, a Northern California entity of the Save Mart chain, will now feature indoor farmers markets in select locations.
The commercial took the form of two country folk talking about what it was like to be indoors, following the assumption that neither had ever actually been indoors before. Aside from the questionable production value of the ad itself, it made me think about what the supermarket chain was really offering.
Fresh, local, and sometimes organic produce… great. It’s wonderful that a supermarket chain that caters to the bargain shopper would want to promote local farmers and fresh and organic produce. But–and this is a fairly large but–how will this be different from the normal produce section? More importantly, why don’t they just make the items offered at the farmers market the normal produce section itself? This, unfortunately, seems to be yet another moment of wanting to capitalize on the green, organic craze rather than a more sincere attempt to provide a better, more meaningful product to its consumers. Better luck next time Lucky…


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  • Jeff Joseph

    This, unfortunately, seems to be yet another moment of wanting to capitalize on the green, organic craze rather than a more sincere attempt to provide a better, more meaningful product to its consumers
    Your cynicism is counter-productive. Calling “greenwashing” like a child playing tag.
    Assuming the end is the same–bringing organic produce to a broader audience–does it really matter if it is “sincere” in your opinion? The fact that they choose to market this initiative in a manner that draws attention to their franchise is their right. At the very worst, that marketing (even if poorly conceived or executed–in your not-so-humble opinion, is still educating a broader demographic on the benefits of organic produce.

  • Ashwin

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your comment, and I appreciate your perspective. I understand that being cynical can be counter-productive at times, and I get that it can be seen as childish at times.
    With that said, in my opinion, sincerity matters a lot. I conceded and will do so again that it’s great that a broader demographic would be more exposed to the benefits of organic produce. But when someone has the power to do that, and only marginally or superficially does it, they deserve to be called out on it too. I’d love nothing more than to be able to walk into Lucky and get an organic apple from the local orchard, and I may be able to do that at their farmers markets, but Lucky has a tremendous opportunity here that they’re not taking advantage of.
    As we’ve seen a lot of false claims about being green or organic (check out our section on Greenwashing, this site run by Greenpeace, as well as this article on Treehugger about how 98% of marketers have been found to make false green claims), I’m wary what Lucky is really trying to do.
    They are not claiming to necessarily overhaul their produce section or product sourcing. There is no CSR or environmental record section on their sites. They are adding the farmers markets into their existing offerings, as if a teaser promo ad, like a rebate coupon. So, in one sense, they are, as you say, “drawing attention” by using a popular trend these days. And once inside, they are offering the same goods and produce as always, albeit with a small gesture in the form of the market. They are not trying to green their business, and in the same vein, will not do much to educate or exposure customers to the benefits of fresh, local, and organic.

  • Jeff Joseph

    You did not make the case that they were greenwashing–only, that they ran a tacky commercial promoting their indoor farmers market–your comments were overreaching.

  • Jeff Joseph

    to add to my reply above (as an answer to yours) you never initially reported that Lucky was claiming that they were now “green” storewide–they were only promoting an indoor farmers market–you should salute and encourage baby steps

  • http://theskanproject.com Neal H. Levin

    Though I’d like to see the full text of the Ad, I tend to agree with Jeff. If they aren’t on a soap box screaming that they are “green” or “sustainable,” then what’s wrong with having a farmer’s market? Maybe this is their first step towards more organic/local produce. Maybe it’s a test study. Small steps should definitely be encouraged, not immediately discounted unless they seek to unjustifiably pat their own back in the process.
    I also agree, however, that this might be a missed opportunity to position themselves as being genuinely and sincerely on a path towards sustainability, though I’d want to research the company and their efforts further before addressing this, a process which begs for more facts from your article prior to so easily (and angrily?) dismissing their conduct.

  • Ashwin

    Neal and Jeff, both your comments are great. People should be applauded for taking steps – baby or not. However, though they didn’t outright claim themselves to be the new “green” supermarket, that’s somewhat how the ad positioned this new offer. And neither their press office nor their website had much to add, which made me think it was just another moment of a company adding to the green noise to market themselves. Nonetheless, I should give them the benefit of the doubt if this is a sincere attempt. I will try and reach out to them again and see if they add to the conversation. Thanks. Stay tuned…

  • http://twitter.com/ashishy1 Ashish Yadav

    nice content.

  • Pingback: Avocados Marketed as Locally Grown Avocados Are Not Local | Gina-MarieCheeseman.com()

  • Johnny Chopstix

    Has anyone checked this market to confirm that it IS a local farmer’s market? If they rip the labels off the grown in mexico tomatoes, how you going to tell?