Why do the stores charge so much more for healthier foods?
Jen and I grocery shop at least once a week. We normally do our shopping on Saturday or Sunday for the upcoming week. I'll usually cook up our proteins—chicken, beef, turkey—on Sunday so it is easy to pack our meals for the day. One thing that's really alarmed us is the huge price difference between grocery stores for many of the same items that are on the healthier side.
Ezekiel bread | We have compared prices at a number of local stores and the price can vary anywhere from $0.25-2.00 more for the same loaf of bread! What's even more alarming is the difference within the same grocery chain at different locations. I was able to find that the cost of Ezekiel bread is between $2.50-4.00 a loaf depending on the flavor. We happen to buy the less expensive flavor (sesame seed) and normally pay $4.79. Some of the flavors can cost $7-8 a loaf.
Organic vegetables | I find it interesting that these veggies, which don't have the added costs of fertilizer, repellent, fuel and transportation, cost so much more. I know...supply and demand, but you get my point.
Lean ground turkey or ground beef | Both are normally $1.50-2.00 more a pound than the fattier meats.
Natural peanut butter | Usually natural peanut butter costs $0.50-1.00 more a jar. Why? It contains less ingredients, so why more?
Egg whites | Well, this one almost makes sense because of the cost of eggs, but the price for egg whites has almost doubled in the last few months. Eggs themselves have not doubled in price. They are even now coming back down to normal, yet egg whites are still so much more expensive.
Sugar free (anything) | Anything sugar free or low calorie has always been at a higher cost than items filled with sugar.
Less processed items | So what you're telling me is that the more a food item has been processed and chemically enhanced the less expensive it is. Huh?!?!
The national average grocery chain markup is between 33-45% on items which means that the grocery chains are making an even larger markup on healthier items.
So why are healthier foods so much more expensive?
Why are Americans getting fatter?
Maybe it's because most of the foods that are always on sale are the overly processed foods.
A couple of months ago we were out shopping and looking for a cornbread mix to make for Thanksgiving. As I was looking next to the regular cornbread, in almost the same box from the same manufacturer, I saw the same cornbread but it was labeled "vegan" for $0.10 more. We had to study the labels to see what the difference was. After studying them for quite a while, the only difference we found was that the vegan version did not contain lard. A box with the same ingredients minus ONE, cost $0.10 more only because it was healthier. So by putting less in the box, they can charge more because it's healthier. Mmm...does anyone else see a problem with this?
This scenario plays out all the time in every health food isle at the grocery store. These healthier items in most stores are by far the most expensive items you will find in the entire store.
What about those people who actually have a gluten allergy? These poor people get doubly screwed over. Not only do they need to eat a product without gluten, but it's normally found in the health food section of the store. This means that they will pay nearly 20-50% more for an item than its non-gluten free version of the item.
Why can't we—those who want to eat healthier—shop for our food without feeling like we are being taken advantage of?
What do we do?
First, we need to take the time to make more of our healthier food choices instead of just buying them pre-made. Second, we need to buy more fruits and veggies. It is not absolutely necessary to buy organic but if you feel the need to, go right ahead. Next, look online at the manufacturers’ websites for coupons. Another good idea is to use in-store cashback and price matching. Lastly, shop and compare prices for your healthier food choices. You'll be amazed at the differences in prices for the same items.
Example: We have a local food chain that sells bread at one price at one location and another price for the same item at another location. We have two grocery chains within a few blocks of each other, you'd think that they would try to price match one another...but oh how wrong we are! One store has a very nice competitive health food section and the other has a smaller isle. The larger, nicer, more comprehensive aisle has much better prices than the other store with the smaller aisle. So, remember to shop and compare. Also, don't be afraid to tell the store managers that you're watching and comparing prices of these items to those from other stores.
Grocery chains want your business. They will eventually become competitive with these items. All it takes is one to make a difference, Soon, the other stores will follow.
Let's start a revolution! Let's collectively start telling our local grocery stores that we're watching what they're doing and that we're price shopping these items. We should also tell them that we'll be posting about the better deals we are finding at ABC Supermarket. Side note—when was the last time a store put any of our healthier items on SALE or supplied a coupon? NEVER!
America is suffering from an obesity epidemic and the suppliers of the items we're addicted to are forcing many to continue to feed their addiction. Things need to change, and it's our job as consumers to try and do something about it. Please spread the word! Share the post with family and friends. And let's start putting pressure back on America to make healthier lifestyle more affordable.
LET'S START THE HEALTH FOOD REVOLUTION!