Supermarket warns 'broccoli bandits' over increasingly-popular act

An Australian supermarket has hit back at stem-snapping "broccoli bandits", issuing a stern warning following reports that shoppers were removing them to save money.

The sign, which was placed in front of a basket of broccoli at an undisclosed store, urged customers to refrain from snapping off stems of the green vegetable.

A photo of the sign was shared on Twitter by radio show 3AW Breakfast. "ATT (attention) customers. You must not break the stems of the broccoli. This is classed as theft. All broccoli purchases will be checked at the registers. Thanks management," the sign reads.

Basket of broccoli in supermarket with a sign warning customers not to break stems off
An undisclosed retailer has issued a stern warning to shoppers who snap stems off broccoli. Credit: Twitter/3AW Breakfast

It isn't clear what particular shop posted the sign, but it's referred to as a "well-known retailer" in 3AW's tweet.

Australia's biggest supermarkets Coles and Woolworths both confirmed with Yahoo News Australia that the sign is not from any of their stores.

Coles was recently brought into the broccoli-snapping discussion, however, when a TikTok showed leftover stems scattered in the fresh produce aisle of a Melbourne Coles store amid rising prices of fruit and veg.

Is it theft?

Regardless of what supermarket it was, the post has left Twitter divided over the issue.

"Technically not theft if you're leaving it and taking what you pay for," one man argued, to which someone else replied, "Exactly! Annoys me you end up paying for something most people rarely actually use."

"You are ruining a product because other people are unlikely to buy just the stem. How is it not inappropriate to do?" another Twitter user argued.

"Hey now I didn't say it was right or that I'd do it, but it's certainly not theft," was one reply.

"I'm not paying for something I'm not eating, and technically we should get a discount at the register," rebutted another.

"Pay our farmers more, then I'll leave the stems on!!" one shopper commented.

"Who would break the stems off? It is the best part!" wrote another.

Radio host Ben Fordham had earlier dubbed shoppers leaving stalks on the shelves as "broccoli bandits", with dozens of Aussies admitting to breaking off what they needed and arguing that "every little bit helps" amid rising costs of living.

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