Why Is Spam So Expensive? Understanding the High Cost and Ways to Save

Spam’s high cost is due to its quality production process, premium ingredients, vacuum-sealed packaging, and long shelf life, making it versatile but pricier than other meats.

Why is Spam So Expensive

While you can easily choose Spam as the meat ingredient to your recipe, the expense can be deterring, whether you are making musubi or experimenting with a new dish.

One of the significant factors that drive Spam’s cost is its production process which enables it to retain its high quality from when it is packaged till it gets to your kitchen (similar to Polish Ham).

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Reasons Why Spam Is So Expensive

Spam is a canned meat food product made from cooked pork product and processed ham. It is made by the Hormel Foods Corporation.

This packaged meat mixture is mixed with preservatives and flavoring agents, including sugar, potato starch and salt, adding to its long shelf life.

From being high-quality meat to having vacuum-sealed packaging, these factors account for the high cost of Spam.

Spam Is Processed and Canned

Ingredients used in making Spam include pork with ham, modified potato starch and sodium nitrate. Processing Spam involves the preparation and addition of such ingredients to improve its look and taste.

Preservatives also help food retain its texture and nutrients after a long period. Besides the ingredients, the packaging material also plays a role in the product’s cost.

Compared to meat like tomahawk steak, which goes from the slaughterhouse to the butcher or grocery store, Spam passes through factory machinery before reaching store shelves.

Factory equipment is expensive to purchase and maintain; hence, this cost reflects in the price of Spam.

In addition, while most butchered meat requires freezing for preservation, Spam is processed to last well without staying in low-temperature environments.

Spam Has a Remarkable Shelf Life

One of Spam’s most interesting facts is that it was a common choice for soldiers during World War II, mainly due to its impressive shelf life for a food product.

Spam lasts from two to five years, making it an excellent option for rationing provisions among soldiers. Unless you use an enormous amount of Spam every day, you don’t need to buy Spam cans as often.

You can always take the portion you need from the can, close it, and take more whenever you need it without bothering about the Spam getting spoiled.

Consumers don’t purchase Spam cans often because of how long spam lasts. The prices are up for both the shelf life value and generate enough revenue with fewer purchases.

The cost of increasing the shelf life of Spam cans reflects on their market value. 

Spam’s Main Ingredient Is High-Quality Meat

The primary ingredient is Spam is excellent pork and ham, a specific cut of pork from the pig’s hind legs. When you cook these pork parts for a long time, they become incredibly tender with a good texture.

To provide such superior quality meat, Spam manufacturers don’t hold out on investing in high-grade livestock.

High-quality livestock is much more than pigs that have a lot of meat. For manufacturers, investing in good livestock involves controlled breeding and paying close attention to ensure there are no diseases.

The cost of maintaining high-quality meat and guaranteeing the quality remains consistent across all products increases Spam’s price.

Spam Is a Key Ingredient in Several Dishes

While you can use Spam at the center of dishes, including Hawaiian cultural favorites like Spam Musubi, it also serves as an ingredient for meals and snacks.

From burgers to sandwiches, Spam spices snacks with its extra meaty texture. Spam is also a key ingredient in bigger meals like island-style fried rice, making it very versatile among food options.

The amount of choices you can consider from having a can of Spam increases its value and price.

Spam’s brand name also plays a considerable role as trusted names tend to be more expensive since they have proven good quality standards in the market. 

Finding Your Perfect Can of Spam in the Store

Spam cans are packaged effectively, vacuum sealed and distributed from the factories to stores and outlets.

Although its long shelf life can inspire you to take anything in the store, trusting that it still has months, if not years, before it expires, there are crucial things to look out for so you don’t go home with the wrong choice of cans.

Check if the Spam Can Is Damaged

This point applies to Spam and every other canned product. Ensure you pay close attention to the packaging of the can and look out for leaks, dents, cracks or openers that are improperly placed.

Canned products are vacuum sealed to prevent microorganisms and air from reentering the container and contaminating the contents. If you come across a damaged can, there is a high chance that the food contents have been infected.

Therefore, taking such a can is a chance not worth taking.

Always Take Note of the Expiry Date

Yes, the shelf life of Spam is impressive, but that does not mean it lasts forever. Like any other food product, it expires and becomes unsafe to consume.

The expiry date is usually placed at the bottom of the can, next to the manufacturing date. It is important to note that the expiry date is different from the best before date.

While the expiry date signifies the last day when the product is safe for consumption, the best before date indicates when the food stops being prime for eating as it may lose its freshness, taste or nutrients.

Avoid Cans With Torn Labels

Stay clear of Spam with labels that do not indicate important dates like manufacturing and expiry dates.

Such cans may have expired already, and with no way to verify, it’s best not to take the risk. The same advice goes for dusty cans because while you can always depend on the shelf life, taking the freshest can is still the best option.

How To Spend Less on Spam

As Spam is expensive, there are various ways for you to save money without avoiding the canned product altogether.

From checking the prices in different stores to looking for discounts, here are some tips for buying Spam without burning through your pockets.

Don’t Only Use Spam as a Meal

Recall that you can also use Spam as an ingredient rather than the main dish. Consistently using Spam (or an alternative) as a meal means consuming more, leading to more expenses.

Let’s say you have one can of Spam; you can make the most of it by adding part of it to a burger or another dish. You make it last longer by using less of it and avoiding purchasing more, enabling you to manage your food budget better. 

Look for Prices in Different Stores

Spam prices can be different at stores known for lower prices. These stores can sell Spam in bulk at an affordable price, enabling you to save more by buying several cans.

If these stores are not available near you, don’t fret. Local stores are another option you should try. With the right deal, you can take advantage of Spam’s long shelf life and stock up on purchasing from local sales.

Keep an Eye Out for Discounts

You can get discounts on bulk purchases in several stores or seasonal discounts to buy several cans and get some for free. You can also use coupons to drive the price down further.

Try Homemade Spam

It may not seem likely, but you can save more by making Spam yourself than by buying from stores. The primary ingredients you need include pork shoulder, ham, garlic and some Morton Tender Quick to cure the meat and give it some flavor. You can also make it in bulk to save more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Spam

Did Spam go up in price?

In 2008, the price of Spam was up by an estimated 7% compared to the previous year. During that period, a 12-ounce can cost about $2.62. Nowadays, you can get it from $2-$7, an enormous increase from the 1940s and 50s when you could get Spam for a few cents. While inflation plays a significant role in the price’s rise, other factors that we stated earlier play a part in why Spam is so expensive.

Is Spam healthy to eat?

Typically, you can use Spam conveniently and preserve it without hassle due to its long shelf life. However, Spam is highly processed and contains large percentages of fat, calories and sodium. It is also low in crucial nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals. You can add Spam to your diet, but do so sparsely.

Is Spam meat high quality?

Spam meat consists of pork shoulder and ham, considered a high-quality cut of pork. Manufacturers go a great length in selecting and breeding livestock to ensure the meat is of top quality before being processed. The purpose of other ingredients in Spam is to retain the quality of meat and preserve it.

What made Spam so popular?

The most known Spam brand, Hormel, first introduced the product in 1937. Spam’s popularity soared after soldiers used it for food rations during World War II. After the war, local cultures adopted Spam in their cuisine, especially in Hawaii. You can find Spam on store shelves and restaurant tables, from being incorporated in meals like rice to snacks like tacos.

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