There is no shortage of absurd measures people will take in hopes of saving a few dollars, but I think this one takes the cake. I first heard the story on NPR this morning, where the sales of Spam are rapidly increasing thanks to more people buying the food-like substance as a substitute for higher food prices in the grocery store. I assumed it was just another useless statistic, but I was curious, so I searched the web for more info on the story.
Sure enough, the Associated Press has a piece that covers the increase in Spam sales. According to the article:
Spam’s maker, Hormel Foods Corp., reported last week that it saw strong sales of Spam in the second quarter, helping push up its profits 14 percent. According to sales information coming from Hormel, provided by The Nielsen Co., Spam sales were up 10.6 percent in the 12-week period ending May 3, compared to last year. In the last 24 weeks, sales were up nearly 9 percent.
While that is quite amazing for such a product, what is even more amazing is what the product actually costs. The average 12 oz. can of Spam runs around $2.62. That translates into about $3.49 per pound. Still think Spam is cheap? Let’s take a stroll through my local grocery store, where a 12 oz. can of spam costs $2.65.
The Price of Other Meats
People think they are saving money by spending $3.49 per pound for the most processed and sodium laden protein around, but what other meat could a smart shopper buy? At my grocery store at least, there are a lot of better deals, and far more healthy options available:
- Split bone-in chicken breasts: $0.99/lb on sale, $2.49/lb regular price.
- A whole boneless ham: $1.99/lb on sale, $2.39/lb regular price.
- Ground chicken breast: $3.49/lb.
- Ground chuck: $2.19/lb on sale, $2.63/lb regular price.
- Boneless pork sirloin chops: $1.99/lb on sale, $2.79/lb regular price.
- Country style boneless pork ribs: $3.49/lb.
- Chicken drumsticks: $1.39/lb.
- 1 pound package of bratwurst or smoked sausage: $3.19
- Italian sausage: $3.79/lb.
As you can see, if you can find meat on sale, you can save significantly more than you would by opting to buy Spam. Even at regular price, virtually all of these items can be had for less than the cost of Spam. While we aren’t talking steak and lobster here, these are all fresh and great meat options that, in my opinion, are a hundred times better than eating Spam, not to mention much healthier.
Savings May Vary
Of course, your location may dictate how much of a savings or non-savings Spam really is. I’m guessing that the price difference between fresh meat and a canned product like Spam might be quite a bit different in the heart of a big city or in a remote location. Even so, I bet there would be plenty of frozen options, or the ability to pick up items on sale for about the same that Spam costs. I don’t know about you, but I’ll leave my few cans of spam to the emergency kit, and hopefully never have to eat it.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.