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.
This article is a joke. Fishing for a story..Yes, i'd say. Compare apples to apples. Spam is mostly a breakfast meat served with other items, like eggs for example. Now compare Spam price to Bacon. Spam is a better deal. This stupid article portrays Spam as being the main course. Think before you write author..............
People are buying this because it has a 3 to 5 year shelf life . I pay about $2 a can for it. And when your hungry and out of food I won't be!
Your article is absurd. Don't you realize that people don't buy spam to save money. They buy it because it is meat in a can and they are storing food just in case we get a worst case scenario economy. Everyone of you would be glad to eat spam if it was the only meat you could find.
Even my Dog turns his nose up at Spam - i do understand that people have to make ends meet (or not meat!!) but the cost difference in buying this stuff cannot really be enough to justify swapping proper meat for this stuff, can it?
My husband wanted some of this just for nostalgia's sake. Couldn't believe the price of it. I hope he enjoys it because I won't be buying it again anytime soon.
...Gen X Finance is one of my new favorite blogs in the PF world (can you guess why?) The best way to describe his no-nonsense approach to finance is a financial whack in the head. In a recent article about increasing sales of SPAM during the astronomic rise in food prices, he outlines why buying SPAM to save money doesn’t make sense. It’s just the kind of common cents we need to keep us grounded....
The savings now will be paid at a later stages as our bodies cannot handle the rubbish that they put into Spam and similar products. It costs more for quality food. And yes I agree you can look around for some great deals, my butcher gives us a great deal as we are regulars.
Perhaps it is speculation of increased meat prices in the future. Spam keeps longer than fresh meat.
Some of us live in hurricane country and buy things lile Spam and other tinned meat for our hurricane supplies. There's no cooking fresh meat when you're more interested in fresh water.
Anita: Yes, I see your point. The people I talk to are normally paying full price for name brand Mac and Cheese (1.39), and the chicken breast/broccoli sale prices are, in my area, about 1.59 a pound for chicken breast, and .59 a pound for broccoli. That's what makes it comparable.
Maybe they switched from other processed, heat-and-eat meats, rather than from raw/fresh meat. Last I checked, 12oz packages of pre-cooked chicken run about $6.
MoneyDummy: I can get a box of mac & cheese for $0.50, which uses probably $0.10 worth of milk and/or butter to prepare. That money won't buy me even 1/4 pound of chicken at the same supermarket.
In all seriousness, the only way rising food prices have affected my eating/shopping is that I now buy less processed food and "treats".
Nope, no time machine. Those were prices as of yesterday at one of our local grocery store chains. I'm about an hour and a half east of Chicago.
Interesting...I'd like to know where you find prices like those...haven't seen the likes of that since 1998 - does Jeremy have a time machine?
Maybe they got SPAM on sale for 99c per pound. Think about it: If you expect that the average consumer switched because of cost, then point out that the cost they switched from is lower, that would make the average consumer a moron.
It's like someone saying "I'm selling my white car to get a blue car because I prefer to drive white cars." I _know_ people who think like that occasionally, but I don't think it's the majority most of the time.
The spam craze reminds me of people who refer to eating macaroni and cheese in order to save money. I always hear that and think, "Save your body AND your wallet with half a pound of chicken breast and a few stalks of fresh broccoli."
I find it odd that people would choose spam over other fresh meats. I guess it is all about convenience these days. And people wonder why children are obese :)
Your title made me think that more people were buying into the spam email they were receiving... but this is more interesting!
Eesh. We got some great ground turkey las week for a lot less! Or beans taste better than spam and are as good for you.