• Sun. Jun 26th, 2022

Prices on almost everything at the grocery store are up – except rotisserie chicken. Here’s why

ByFolco Terzani

May 29, 2022

At the grocery store, shoppers have seen food prices increase at their fastest pace in decades. Yet the price of one hot, juicy, spit-roasted favorite hasn’t budged at several top chains: rotisserie chickens.

Despite a 16.4% annual increase in chicken prices rotisserie chickens remain $4.99 at Costco (COST) and BJ’s Wholesale Club (BJ). At Sam’s Club they cost a penny less than that. Meijer still sells its rotisserie chicken for $5.99, while Giant Eagle has kept it at $6.99 and Publix at $7.39.

There’s a strategy behind these stores’ decision to keep rotisserie chicken prices steady — and it signals a lot about how grocers are trying to manage inflation while still holding onto their shoppers. The rotisserie chicken is a prized item for supermarkets because it pulls customers into stores. Typically, customers will shop around and buy more than just a chicken for dinner when they visit.

Companies want to stay competitive on rotisserie chicken prices and are willing to lose money selling them even as production costs rise. It’s called a “loss leader” for a reason: stores can can raise prices on other goods to make up for these losses. “Once [customers] are in the store, they can fill out the rest of their basket, which the store might make a higher margin on,” said Ernest Baskin, an associate professor in the department of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University.