As a foodie I love the concept of Marqt – selling food directly from the producer with a focus on superior quality, local produce and eco-friendliness. I followed Marqt pre opening and praised the idea. And I wrote about the opening and recommended to everyone to go check it out – like I did. The first impressions were great. Marqt was different with a visible focus on tasty food rather than expiration dates and pretty packages.
Now, about six months later, I am starting to have doubts. What really struck me was the price of two chicken fillets I bought earlier this week. More than 11 Euros for about 400 grams of chicken breast is outrageous! I know and expect Marqt to charge a premium for quality. But 11 Euros?!? I usually buy chicken at a Turkish butcher around the corner where the same chicken breasts run between 3 and 4 Euros. A quick check at Albert Heijn online shows 375 grams of chicken breast for less than 3 Euros. So Marqt is about three times more expensive than the small Turkish butcher and its price is four times that of AH.
What about quality then? Both Marqt and AH provide far inferior quality to the Turkish butcher. The chicken has an artificial light color and is watery to the point where frying it becomes a health hazard. Given that AH currently markets its meat with a “healthy choice” seal, I really see little difference between the fillets of Marqt and AH – except for the outrageous price tag at Marqt.
There are other issues at Marqt: The milk section is extremely limited – I often cannot find crème fraîche or full fat milk and there a few yogurt options. Ready made meals have taken over a section of the supermarket that used to provide interesting sauces. And while the canned products are from eco-friendly brands, they are often not the best tasting ones.
A group of food retail experts that visited Marqt to study the new concept seems to agree. Their conclusion was that Marqt is a great concept with a superior shopping experience but no difference in quality compared to the standard supermarkets they run.
Marqt recently opened a second store in Haarlem. I really hope that they will focus on quality food as they set out to do. And I will be happy to pay a premium for quality, shopping experience and the eco feel good factor. However, right now it looks more like a snobby and expensive food boutique with a messed up price to quality ratio!