Inflation is raising the price of all sorts of items in the grocery store, but one staple appears to be immune: rotisserie chicken.
In fact, according to CNN Business, housing costs are up more than 5% from 2021, and food costs are 10% more. This squeeze affects everyone, but some brands are fighting back by finding new ways to cut expenses and keep prices reasonable.
Costco is attempting to join Arizona as one of the few, proud corporations making a valiant attempt to keep prices down and encourage customers to continue to shop with them. To begin with, Costco’s food court offers a cheap hot dog meal that comes with a quarter-pound, all-beef dog and 20 oz soda with refills for just $1.50. Costco CEO Craig Jelinek told CNBC a solid “No” when asked if “there is any inflationary environment in which he would raise that price.”
Likewise, Costco is striving to keep its giant, tasty rotisserie chickens inflation-proof in order to entice people into the store.
Costco’s rotisserie chicken—the whole chicken, not shredded or sliced—is priced at $4.99 throughout the entire globe, and has been since 2009. According to an estimate from the National Chicken Council, Americans will purchase 950 million rotisserie chickens from grocery stores each year. That’s a lot of poultry flying off the shelves.
So why exactly does Costco’s four-pound bird cost a paltry sum of $4.99, and why don’t they raise the price?
When Barclays analyst Meredith Adler asked Costco CFO Richard Galanti this question in 2015, he responded, “I can only tell you what history has shown us: When others were raising their chicken prices from $4.99 to $5.99, we were willing to eat, if you will, $30 to $40 million a year in gross margin by keeping it at $4.99. That’s what we do for a living.”
In other words, it’s their business philosophy—plain and simple. Some were skeptical, though. A more likely explanation is that the chicken is a “loss leader” that’s meant to lure customers into the store later in the day—especially around dinner time. The hope is that these hungry customers will pick up a few other items they wouldn’t have bought otherwise. As CNBC points out, that’s why the rotisserie chicken counters are strategically located at the back of the store.
More details of this report from AWM:
Now, Consumer Reports has conducted a deep-dive investigation into 16 different rotisserie chicken offerings from across America. The group analyzed the product sold at seven supermarkets (Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Stop & Shop, Walmart, Wegmans, and Whole Foods), three club stores (BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, and Sam’s Club), and one fast-casual chain restaurant (Boston Market), according to a report on Yahoo News.
The study did not examine chickens that had been flavored. Instead, they studied only the items that were plain or original.
The findings were surprising because a rotisserie chicken might have more going on than just chicken.
“You can’t assume that all rotisserie chicken is just a plain cooked chicken,” says CR nutritionist Amy Keating, RD.
One reason for this is that stores do something to their chickens before roasting them. Here’s what the National Chicken Council has to say about that.
“Essentially, all rotisserie chickens are enhanced with a solution [injected into the bird] to keep the birds moist and tasty,” says Tom Super, senior vice president of communications for the National Chicken Council.
This injection often includes “unhealthy” things like sugar plus processed ingredients that you might rather avoid. There are also plenty of “natural” ingredients stuffed into these birds. These birds are often loaded with far more salt than you’d ever add at home.
“Natural flavors aren’t necessarily as natural as you might think, and you should generally try to avoid processed ingredients as much as possible,” Keating said.
Before picking up a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store, take a look at the nutrition facts label. Make sure you’re not eating something you don’t think you’re eating, and try to avoid putting too much sugar and salt into your diet as these can have negative health effects like high blood pressure and weight gain.
Watch the video report below for more details: