Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 11-14-2016, 06:34 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 19,665
Why does an ear of corn cost so much at the grocery store or farmers market

So much = $0.25-0.50. I've heard some quotes as high as $1 an ear.

A bushel of corn is about $3.60, which is 56 pounds.

At some rural farm supply stores, a 50 lb bag of feed corn for livestock is $6-8.

So why is an ear $0.25 or more (usually a bit more, closer to $0.50), when a 50 lb bag of corn is $7? The bag of corn requires extra processing over the ear of corn. Plus with an ear of corn, only a % of the weight of the corn is actual kernels.

Supposedly there are 60 ears of corn in a bushel. That works out to $0.06 an ear straight from the farm.

Are there added costs other than transportation to the market?

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 11-14-2016 at 06:34 PM.
#2
Old 11-14-2016, 06:40 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2015
Location: 123 Fake Street
Posts: 6,266
I am not a farmer nor a cornologist, BUT my wife is a Nebraska Corn Huskers fan, so that might be worth....nothing.

ANYway, my WAG is that most corn produced is cheap low grade feed. The small percentage of corn meant for human consumption probably has a higher bulk price.

Now I'm sure someone will come in and tell me how wrong I am.
#3
Old 11-14-2016, 06:41 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: The Middle of Puget Sound
Posts: 21,793
Because an ear of corn on the cob is a fragile perishable fresh vegetable, while field corn is a durable staple.

All the extra cost is due to carefully harvesting and packing and shipping fresh produce. Field corn you run a combine over the field, kernels go into the hopper and waste blows out the other end, and then it's stored and transported as a bulk material.
#4
Old 11-14-2016, 06:44 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 18,787
Still cost the same to transport and stock and display as any other product. Not sayin' that accounts for that. Also it's a low cost high popularity item so good to display, so 'they' can make some money while appearing to sell it dirt cheap.

With the known cost of production posted here it sort of makes sense why corn ethanol can make some sense.
#5
Old 11-14-2016, 06:59 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,892
Feed corn is not something humans can or would eat. At least not happily.
#6
Old 11-14-2016, 07:05 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 25,158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
I've heard some quotes as high as $1 an ear.
That's piracy!
#7
Old 11-14-2016, 07:07 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 10,223
Corn on the cob is perishable. Field corn, when picked after the plant dies, is much less so.
#8
Old 11-14-2016, 07:11 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: State of Jefferson
Posts: 8,331
Quote:
Originally Posted by TSBG View Post
Feed corn is not something humans can or would eat. At least not happily.
Yeah ... sweet corn is a different variety and it does require extra care to grow and harvest ... animal fodder is bred to allow mechanical processing and who cares what it tastes like ... with sweet corn you have to walk your field every few days just picking the ripe ears ... it might be done differently at commercial levels but those operations are not all that abundant ... Iowa Cornfield National Park is basically all pig food ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 11-14-2016 at 07:12 PM.
#9
Old 11-14-2016, 07:16 PM
Graphite is a great
Moderator
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Akron, Ohio
Posts: 26,202
If sweet corn pickers would only work for $2/hour, we wouldn't have these problems.
#10
Old 11-14-2016, 07:50 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,892
I read a funny thing somewhere on the internet long ago--American living in rural France was trying to give his friends a real Thanksgiving feast. He insisted on making corn (don't remember how prepared) despite the skepticism of the French. Of course it turned out he'd bought feed corn, and it was horrible.
#11
Old 11-14-2016, 07:56 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 26,273
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
That's piracy!
#12
Old 11-14-2016, 08:55 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Again, Titletown
Posts: 21,103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
That's piracy!
That's the average price in Tampa I hear.
#13
Old 11-15-2016, 12:18 AM
Horrified Onlooker
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Moscow, Idaho
Posts: 5,234
What the buck are you guys talking about?
#14
Old 11-15-2016, 12:38 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 860
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreacherousCretin View Post
What the buck are you guys talking about?
Clean your ears!
#15
Old 11-15-2016, 01:09 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: London
Posts: 2,597
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
That's the average price in Tampa I hear.
Even after you've sold your ears?
#16
Old 11-15-2016, 01:42 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 6,009
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreacherousCretin View Post
What the buck are you guys talking about?
Quote piracy?
#17
Old 11-15-2016, 07:16 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 26,273
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
Even after you've sold your ears?
To a buccaneer for a buck an ear?
#18
Old 11-15-2016, 12:13 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 36,042
Quote:
Originally Posted by TSBG View Post
Feed corn is not something humans can or would eat. At least not happily.
Right. Dent or Field corn is used to make corn meal and corn oil, it's not sweet corn. Sure we eat it in corn bread and many other foods, but not straight. The yield per acre for Dent corn is about 8-10 times higher than sweet.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dent_corn
#19
Old 11-15-2016, 01:17 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 435
Sorry, no cite, but I once read that less than 5% of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by humans in any form (corn on the cob, canned corn, corn oil, corn flakes, corndogs, etc). The vast majority is feed corn and ethanol.

Anyway, isnt the answer to any question like "Why is XXX so expensive when it only costs XXX dollars to make" almost always "supply and demand".?

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
#20
Old 11-15-2016, 01:25 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,781
This thread is so corny.
#21
Old 11-15-2016, 01:39 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Again, Titletown
Posts: 21,103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimballkid View Post
This thread is so corny.
There's a kernel of truth in that statement.
#22
Old 11-15-2016, 01:49 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 17,348
If you live where they grow it and it's in season, it's practically free. Not surprising the price gets jacked up out of season or if it needs to be shipped long distances.

Not sure I could bring myself to spend a dollar per ear though, and I have seen that price. It's usually crap corn to boot.
#23
Old 11-15-2016, 02:14 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 26,273
I could get a dozen ears for $5 locally at roadside stands this past season. Top notch stuff too.
#24
Old 11-15-2016, 03:23 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: South Bay
Posts: 83,749
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
There's a kernel of truth in that statement.
What the fruct is it with all these puns!
#25
Old 11-15-2016, 03:37 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 38,810
Saw an episode of Shark Tank recently with a guy who wanted to make high quality tortilla chips using sweet corn. All the sharks loved the chips but his costs were 3 times higher than common tortilla chips made from feed corn. Sweet corn has a short shelf life, it degrades in quality as soon as it's picked. Lower yield per acre for sweet corn was already mentioned. All feed corn will get dried or processed and used somehow, sweet corn that doesn't sell at the market gets thrown away.

The Select, Choice, and Prime meat you can buy at the grocery or butcher shop costs a lot more than the canning grade stuff also. People pay more for fresh unprocessed food because it looks and tastes better. Once processed those are less important factors and lower grade product can be used. There's a reason a quality TBone costs more than hot dogs per pound.
#26
Old 11-15-2016, 03:48 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Over on the left
Posts: 13,186
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
What the fruct is it with all these puns!
I know--to get at the solid info you have to navigate a maize of jokes.
#27
Old 11-15-2016, 03:59 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 860
Enough with the ad hominy
#28
Old 11-15-2016, 04:01 PM
Corellian Nerfherder
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 11,689
You can all kiss my grits.
#29
Old 11-15-2016, 04:21 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 860
Or we can behave like adults and stalk this through
#30
Old 11-15-2016, 04:33 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 36,042
You guys and your smooth as silk humor.....
#31
Old 11-15-2016, 04:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,892
This board is only a husk of what it once was.
#32
Old 11-15-2016, 05:11 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 26,273
I'm just amaize . . .

No, no, can't do it. Sorry. Sorry!
#33
Old 11-15-2016, 05:21 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 860
Don't want to go against the grain, eh?
#34
Old 11-15-2016, 05:33 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,035
Aw, shucks! This thread has really gone to seed. It's downright earie all the bad puns. Tassels and tassels of 'em.
#35
Old 11-15-2016, 05:37 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 860
Maybe we need a fresh startch? I can tortilla get down with that!
#36
Old 11-15-2016, 06:19 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 1,824
It's impressive to see how many jokes can be cobbled together for chicken feed.
#37
Old 11-15-2016, 06:21 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2015
Location: 123 Fake Street
Posts: 6,266
Each and every one of you have made The List. Congratulations. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.
#38
Old 11-15-2016, 07:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 2,477
Laughing at thread and my voice has gone all husky.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
Still cost the same to transport and stock and display as any other product.
Fresh corn cobs vs dried corn kernels? No.

Fresh ears of corn will be transported in stryrofoam cartons which will be hand packed rather than moving by multiple tonne lots via bulk trucks and conveyors.
They will probably use refrigerated transport and storage.
There will be considerable wastage in the supply chain to store. Any cob that is damaged or shows sign of spoilage will be unsaleable at the retail end. Drop a bag of feed corn and the only problem is having to pick it up again. Once on display the product will have a shelf life of a day, maybe 2.

Compare the retail cost of corn kernels in the form of packs for popping vs fresh on the cob.
#39
Old 11-15-2016, 08:56 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 20,390
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
I could get a dozen ears for $5 locally at roadside stands this past season. Top notch stuff too.
Friends, Romans and fellow countrymen...lend me your cheap ears!
#40
Old 11-15-2016, 09:23 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
So much = $0.25-0.50. I've heard some quotes as high as $1 an ear.

A bushel of corn is about $3.60, which is 56 pounds.

At some rural farm supply stores, a 50 lb bag of feed corn for livestock is $6-8.

So why is an ear $0.25 or more (usually a bit more, closer to $0.50), when a 50 lb bag of corn is $7? The bag of corn requires extra processing over the ear of corn. Plus with an ear of corn, only a % of the weight of the corn is actual kernels.

Supposedly there are 60 ears of corn in a bushel. That works out to $0.06 an ear straight from the farm.

Are there added costs other than transportation to the market?
When we get ears of corn in at my grocery store we sell for $1 per dozen ($0.08 ear) but i'm buying them on the liquidation market.

The thing about corn is that the ears of corn look good out on display for about 3 hours (seriously) the outside starts to dry out and look terrible, nobody will buy it no matter how cheap it is.

So i would think a regular store needs to work in some high throwaway percentages in order to even think about coming out ahead.
#41
Old 11-16-2016, 01:23 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,781
Quote:
Originally Posted by penultima thule View Post
Fresh ears of corn will be transported in stryrofoam cartons
This is simply wrong. Our fresh sweet corn comes in flimsy little wooden crates held together by wire.

Last edited by Kimballkid; 11-16-2016 at 01:23 PM.
#42
Old 11-16-2016, 03:11 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 2,477
[notworthy][/notworthy]

Last edited by penultima thule; 11-16-2016 at 03:11 PM.
#43
Old 11-16-2016, 03:15 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,781


You were right about it looking 'not-so-fresh' when we get it though. At our store, we usually husk it and put 4 or 5 ears on the little Styrofoam trays and wrap it in plastic so it looks a little better.

We do get some good fresh local stuff during the season though and that stuff sells like hotcakes. When that comes in, we usually stop ordering the stuff from the warehouse.

Last edited by Kimballkid; 11-16-2016 at 03:16 PM.
#44
Old 11-16-2016, 03:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,892
At the local Trader Joe's they get in-season (local-ish?) corn they sell for 25 cents an ear, loose. These ears unlike at the bigger chains are more likely to have dodgy kernels, withered ends, etc. but are pretty good when bought and cooked up the same day. TJ's also sells the styrofoam packed corn, which I typically don't bother with.
#45
Old 11-17-2016, 06:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2011
Location: boise idaho
Posts: 1,800
Quote:
Originally Posted by TSBG View Post
At the local Trader Joe's they get in-season (local-ish?) corn they sell for 25 cents an ear, loose. These ears unlike at the bigger chains are more likely to have dodgy kernels, withered ends, etc. but are pretty good when bought and cooked up the same day. TJ's also sells the styrofoam packed corn, which I typically don't bother with.
that packed-on-foam trays stuff is the stuff you cut into smallish chunks and throw into a stew or soup to add bulk and color, about all its good for.

Last edited by guestchaz; 11-17-2016 at 06:15 PM.
#46
Old 11-18-2016, 10:00 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 19,648
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
I could get a dozen ears for $5 locally at roadside stands this past season. Top notch stuff too.
You realize that's over 40 cents per ear, right?
#47
Old 11-18-2016, 10:01 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 19,648
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrdeals View Post
When we get ears of corn in at my grocery store we sell for $1 per dozen ($0.08 ear) but i'm buying them on the liquidation market.

The thing about corn is that the ears of corn look good out on display for about 3 hours (seriously) the outside starts to dry out and look terrible, nobody will buy it no matter how cheap it is.

So i would think a regular store needs to work in some high throwaway percentages in order to even think about coming out ahead.
Then you husk the corn, package it in Styrofoam and plastic wrap, put it next to the steaks and sell it for double, assuming you have some folks sitting around not doing much of anything else (which is almost always the case).
#48
Old 11-18-2016, 11:06 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 23,778
I suspect they charge what the consumer market will bare. 75 cents for an ear of corn, apple or orange isn't enough to get the attention of most shoppers. It's still cheaper than a soda.

The profit on produce is probably high. But spoilage has to be factored in too.

Farmers buy in bulk. They buy cheaper feed corn.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:56 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: broken guitar non gratis fatty fatty 2x4 friggin definition tapping on starter watering new concrete naughty phone numbers brick graffiti joining plywood am pm name triplet time signature sandblasting concrete male prostitution antimatter bomb vs tsar bomba mongol bow vs longbow where does cracker barrel get their antiques do nicotine patches expire elephant story tim conway game with the biggest map 1000 ways to die fart what is a research agreement civ 5 how to say play music in japanese can i send money through mail