Image by Bailey Garrot

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Costco has 546 locations in the United States as of 2019.

While some may look to contextualize that number with comparisons to Walmart or Aldi locations, others look to place it in a different category altogether: this makes Costco one of the largest pizza chains in the United States.

Costco was ranked 15th largest pizza chain in 2011 and 14th in 2015 (*per a few flippantly reported pieces). …


Image by Bailey Garrot

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Grocery stores like to run at low-waste, especially for perishable products like meat. To cut down on possible waste, retailers focus on common-sense tactics like monitoring the temperatures of the display cases multiple times a day. If the store has in-house butchers, they will aim to stay just ahead of demand, only cutting and grinding meat according to what is needed.

When meat starts to move past its prime, a store’s response depends on both company policies and state and local regulations. Stores generally decide their own “best buy” or expiration dates (very few states require a grocery store to…


Image by Bailey Garrot

Cookbook sales grew 21% in the first half of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017, according to The NPD Group, a market research company. While NPD is careful to note that 2018 numbers may be skewed because of the runaway 1.3 million copies sold of Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table, general cookbook sales are still up 11% year over year. (*There isn’t data available for COVID-19 numbers yet, but I’m assuming the general trend will survive aberrations.)

These are astonishingly high numbers for the publishing industry.

Why do readers still want physical cookbooks?

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Google a simple recipe — say…


Image by Bailey Garrot

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In times of economic uncertainty (like a worldwide pandemic), one of the first things people do is cut food budgets, said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “It’s a strategy for trying to cope with an economic shock, or persistently limited resources,” Waxman explained.

The cost of groceries has risen rapidly since the pandemic took over the US economy in March. Grocery prices experienced the greatest increase in almost 50 years in April. According to the Washington Post, nearly every category of food has become more expensive at some point…


Melting Dairy Queen ice cream cone
Melting Dairy Queen ice cream cone
Image by Bailey Garrot

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In 2003, the national average speed-of-service time was about 190 seconds. In 2018, that had increased to an average of 234 seconds — an increase of 23%.

Twenty three percent! In a 15-year period that saw an explosion of consumer-facing technology and convenience (Prime NOW), the average fast food wait time increased by 44 seconds.

Don’t think that this was just happenstance, or that it has remained unstudied. Entire careers are built on analyzing drive-thru experience. “Off-premise dining” is a major factor in business strategy for every fast food brand out there. In 2018, 70% of sales in fast food…


Generic cereal and generic cookies
Generic cereal and generic cookies
Image by Bailey Garrot

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I always buy the store-brand, “generic” canned beans. There wasn’t a sharp conviction behind it, I just thought I was being a smug “best-informed shopper”.

To be honest, most of the decision hinges on cost. Cost-saving guides preach buying store brands, because, as the argument goes, what’s the difference? There’s always the whispers: “it’s the same thing, in a different package”. “Grocery store brand cereal is made by xxBig Food Company, why pay for the brand name?”

I always thought — exactly, how much are we paying for a brand name? …


Image by Bailey Garrot

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According to the Food Industry Association, the average net profit after taxes for grocery stores was 1.2% in 2018.

For comparison, here’s some other net profit margin numbers (pre-COVID, alright folks):

  • General retail: 3.29%
  • Green & Renewable Energy: 7.9%
  • The shoe industry: 10.52%
  • Food processing: 11.4%
  • Entertainment: 12.79%
  • Alcoholic beverages: 20.65%

Looking at profit across industries, nearly every industry has a higher net profit margin than grocery (ignore banking-related numbers, which I’m sure are full of shenanigans when it comes to “profit”). …


Banana on floor
Banana on floor
Image by Bailey Garrot

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Bananas hold one of the highest “household penetration” rates of all foods, with 86% of American households stocking up on the fruit. In terms of household penetration, bananas are neck-and-neck with potatoes (what an exceedingly strange phrase I’ve written!), but they’ve secured the top spot in terms of produce volume sales.

“Since bananas are among the most purchased items in the store, they arguably stimulate more visits to the produce department than any other single fruit or vegetable,” says Bil Goldfield, Director of Corporate Communications for Dole Food Company.

Goldfield says this as a representative of a company that controls…


Every time I see a fast food commercial, I have this sinking feeling. This can’t be going as planned. Something has gone wrong. Gravity is too much at work here. And food is falling.

Corinne Kocher

Explorations of the food supply chain. Former line cook, current comms person, forever advocate of adequately salting your food. Images by Bailey Garrot.

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