Sliced Above: The cost of Deli sliced vs Pre Packaged sliced

I was shopping at Whole Foods today in Ann Arbor, and I was getting some sliced meat at the deli counter. Along with getting some turkey, I looked over at the cheeses and figured I’d get some too. Unlike the meats, the prices of the cheeses were not listed. There was a plastic sign holder on top of the counter with a blank white page showing. I asked, “How much are the cheeses?” The deli assistant flip this sign around and showed me the prices listed now visible to me the customer. Unless I asked, these prices were for her eyes only. She said that they did not carry all of the varieties of cheeses behind the counter, and that I could get some in the pre-sliced packages in the refrigerator selection. Havarti was one of the varieties not behind the case, so I had Emily run and get some in the package. I quickly factored the price and noticed a significant difference favoring the deli counter sliced cheeses.

Now these cheese were exactly the same in variety and the company. Only one was in the package and one was slice behind the counter. What was the price difference? In most cases I would be charge around 26 percent more for the same cheese in the package. Some items could be 50-60 percent more in price between grabbing a package compared to asking the deli assistant for help. The interesting thing about going to the deli is that in most cases, the deli assistant gives me the first test-for-thickness slice for free as a bonus. Why the higher price? I can’t say, but the act of walking 30 feet from the refrigerator section to the deli can save you money.

The other question here is what other items are like this?

Here are the price breakdowns

Andrew & Everett Pepper Jack:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Swiss:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 14.2% more
Deli sliced: $10

Andrew & Everett Mild Cheddar:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Munster
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Havarti:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Mozzarella:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 63% more
Deli sliced: 7.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Colby Jack
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Provolone:
Package 7oz $5.50 (12.57 per/LB), 39.6% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett American:
Package 7oz $5.50 (12.57 per/LB), 39.6% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Applegate Genoa Salami:(non-organic)
Packaged: 4oz, $5.00 ($20 per/LB), 53% more
Deli sliced: $13.00 per/LB

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3 responses to “Sliced Above: The cost of Deli sliced vs Pre Packaged sliced

  1. I’ve noticed things like this and I assume that you’re paying extra for the packaging. I like to buy flours, sugars and especially spices in bulk at By the Pound for exactly the same reason—if a factory packages it for you, you pay more.

    I do also like going to the deli counter because I like the people who work at WF so much 🙂

  2. Canned beans are another example, but with canned beans between dried, you get fully cooked beans. With the cheese or the meat slices, we are paying more for the same item.

    Bulk is usually the way to go. A pound of flour cost about $1-2. Take that flour add some water and yeast, and bake and you got bread for less than half the price.

  3. PeaceLoveGranola

    I love your cost analysis! However, may I point out that Whole Foods is a conventional grocery store that charges more than the average grocer for conventional products, hence their nickname of Whole Paycheck. It’s been an issue that their marketing and decoration leads many to believe that they are buying organic/ local most of the time when, in fact, only a third of their products are organic (check the Organic Consumers Union). I find that they are best for only certain products, like high quality meat. Otherwise, I prefer local food coops, regular grocers with organic lines, or Asian/Latino grocers.

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