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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lovely Spam

Paul Volcker may not be ready to declare the United States in a recession, but the signs are there. Housing prices are down and oil is up which is driving up the cost of everything else. While Volcker watches the unemployment rates and the cost of a barrel of oil, there’s a sure indicator that the nation is feeling the pinch as the Hormel Company enjoys a 14% increase in sales. Why are Hormel’s profits up? In no small measure because Spam sales are up.

The ubiquitous canned lunch meat that made its first appearance during the Great Depression in 1937 and became a running gag for Monty Python’s Flying Circus beginning in 1970 has been inexpensive and therefore a staple for people stretching their food dollars. I fed a certain amount of the stuff to my children in the ‘70s and ‘80s when money was thin.

Recently the San Francisco Chronicle published an article about the economy and Spam sales.

Food prices are increasing faster than they've risen since 1990, at 4 percent in the U.S. last year, according to the Agriculture Department. Many staples are rising even faster, with white bread up 13 percent last year, bacon up 7 percent and peanut butter up 9 percent.

There's no sign of a slowdown. Food inflation is running at an annualized rate of 6.1percent as of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The price of Spam is up too, with the average 12 oz. can costing about $2.62. That's an increase of 17 cents, or nearly 7 percent, from the same time last year. But it's not stopping sales, as the pork meat in a can seems like a good alternative to consumers.

Kimberly Quan, a stay-at-home mom of three who lives just outside San Francisco, has been feeding her family more Spam in the last six months as she tries to make her food budget go further.

She cooks meals like Spam fried rice and Spam sandwiches two or three times a month, up from once a month previously.

Pulling Spam from the shelf prevents last-minute grocery store trips and overspending, said Quan, 38, of Pleasanton, Calif.
"It's canned meat and it's in the cupboard and if everything else is gone from the fridge, it's there," she said.

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. (Fredrix)

Back when Seattle Flight Service was still part of the FAA the facility held a Spam-off each year. My husband received an honorable mention the year we made a “Spammobile” using canned pineapple for headlights, maraschino cherries for tail lights and marshmallows for wheels. Who knows, the stuff may end up on our table again yet.


Lorraine Hart said...

Wow, talk about yer deja did!!

Wonder if the price of soup bones has gone up...good old homemade soup makes a dollar stretch.

Hmmmm...they say an ex-president tastes just like chicken...thankfully, not too long now!

JosephMcG said...

We lived on spam when I was a kid in Texas... and we got out of Texas as soon as I hit twelve...
We had learned how to buy things so that we could stretch our money (anyone remember going to the train stations and buying canned food that has been damaged at a reduced price)
So, we are back in the forties again... how far we have come

oh, Stephanie... excellent research, brilliant writing, great picture... thank you

Stephanie Frieze said...

I have always prowled the dented & scratched bins which is part of why I choose Fred Meyer over their competitors.

Less meat and more soup bones are going to be the order of the day. Time for us to tighten our belts literally as well as economically.

Were I good at uploading the You Tubes I would have included Monty Python's song. :-)