Launched in 1981 as a family run business, Quality Foods aims to combine the convenience of a departmental store and the expertise of a specialist store for Asians living in London.
While there are several independent stores across London’s Asian areas selling Asian groceries, sweets and knick-knacks, Quality Foods is one of the most popular chains. Rightly so, because the breadth and variety of Indian/Asian goods stock at Quality Foods are second to none.
Items and stocks: Quality Foods store at Southall, Hounslow and other areas is your “go to” place for not just stocking up on Asian grocery items such as rice, chappati flour and dal but for every Asian masalas, herbs, grains, ghee, fruits, vegetables, ready meals, sweets and savouries, cooking pots, religious (pooja) items and seasonal goodies (such as diyas for Diwali or rakhis for Raksha Bandhan).
And there are a variety of brands for each of these items. Patak’s, Shane, TRS, Natco, Royal Sweets, Tilda, Kohinoor, Pilsbury etc have a very strong brand presence at Quality Foods. So do well-known Indian imported goods such as Parle-G biscuits, Mother’s Pickles, Priya Pickles, Dabur products, LG Hing, Everest Masala, MDH curry powders, Parachute oil, Vatika products, Godrej hair products, Maggi noodle packets, Asian-branded toiletries, fruit drinks – you name it! It is delightful and nostalgic to find products you have always used back home.
Quality Foods store can be handy and useful for the Asian community members who are used to and prefer using, cooking, and eating Asian products.
Pricing: Like most ethnic stores in London, it is hard to guess if the pricing of goods at Quality Foods offers value for money or not. Hence one has to be a smart and savvy shopper. For staple products such as onions, tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, leafy vegetables, milk and butternut squash, sticking to local/British produce at larger supermarkets is a better bet as they are fresher, better and cheaper most of the times. Although Quality Foods stocks all these products, it is best for specialist or ethnic fruit and veg and groceries. For tindori, gawar, plantains, cooking masalas, and ethnic herbs and spices, Quality Foods store is a good option.
Upside: While regular supermarkets have tiny sections dedicated to ethnic goods, specialist stores such as Quality Foods is a boon to the Asian community who wish to buy groceries and make ethnic meals at home from the scratch.
It offers a wide variety of stocks and has its own label (Gulab) goods that are cheaper than Natco or TRS versions.
Despite Asian food items dominating the shelves at Quality Foods, it is a good departmental store to stock up on Indian branded toiletries, herbal well-being products, pooja items and pots and pans. Sometimes, there are good bargain offers on regular essentials such as ghee, yogurt, rice, dal and chappati flour.
The store itself lends to a lot of community activity – there is always a Bollywood or Bhangra music playing at the background, many Asians shop with friends and family and engage in nostalgic conversations with other shoppers and shop staff and there are smaller make-shift stalls just outside the store offering patrons sample food dishes. There are also chaat stalls in some Quality Foods branches.
Downside: The pricing of products can vary often and it is important to keep an eye on the pricing – it is sometimes based on per kilo, per piece, per pound etc. When some products are on sale on a cut-price offer – it is often too good to be true. India News Bulletin readers have experience of buying stale coconuts, plantain, bananas and watermelons that look good from the outside and are cheap, but are disappointing in quality.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are usually displayed and are on sale at the shop front – making it more vulnerable to pollution and dirt from the streets. It also means that although Quality Food store closes on weekdays at 8pm, the staff is clearing the shop front from 7pm onwards creating a chaotic and lacklustre shopping experience.
Another downside is the lack of parking space at some Quality Foods outlets such as Southall.
India News Bulletin tip: If you want fresh produce and prefer quieter shopping experience, 11am to 4pm on weekdays maybe the best bet. Any time during weekends is usually always busy and it is best to avoid shopping at Quality Foods at least an hour before the scheduled closing of the stores.
Pick specialist ethnic products and stock up on ethnic sweets and savouries available at the store. Keep an eye out for bargains on large bags of rice, dal and chappati atta.
Do you shop at Quality Foods store? Let us know what you think by writing to us atFollow Archana Venkatraman on Google+