When you hear about dollar discount stores, the first thought that comes to mind most likely isn’t groceries.

But, it might be time to consider dollar-discount stores as a stop for your grocery needs, according to a study released by University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), based in Las Vegas. That’s because this study found that the quality of fruits and vegetables at dollar stores is just as good as regular grocery store produce.

The research team championed channel blurring, the rising phenomenon of retailers diversifying their inventory to feature products commonly found elsewhere to help families across socioeconomic lines fill the nutrition gap.

“These findings are important for public health, as our study indicates that channel blurring at the dollar discount stores results in access to healthy, quality produce and affordable food options,” says Courtney Coughenour, lead author and professor of UNLV School of Community Health Sciences. “Because cost, quality and accessibility are established barriers to healthy eating, dollar discount stores can serve as community assets that increase access to quality, affordable food.”

Among the highlights:

  • The study compared the color, cleanliness, freshness and firmness of fruits and vegetables in 14 dollar-discount stores to 40 traditional food outlets across the Las Vegas metro area.
  • While there was slightly less variety of produce at dollar stores (for example, none of the dollar stores carried pears), there was no significant difference in quality. “The dollar store fruits may be ripe, and you’ll have to eat it soon, but it’s completely good quality,” Coughenour says.
  • 84% of produce and 89.5% of non-produce items were significantly less expensive at dollar stores.

“We are conditioned to believe that cheap, quality produce is too good to be true. If the quality is good, and it’s cheap, why not take advantage of the lower price?” says Coughenour.