Sales of SPAM on the rise

By glblguy

As food prices continue to rise, consumers like you and I are constantly on the look-out for ways to trim our spending. As a result, sales of Spam are also on the rise. Regardless of how you feel about SPAM, it is cheap costing on average $2.62 per can.

Sales of SPAM (the canned meat, not the unsolicited email) are rising as consumers turn more to lower-cost foods to extend their already stretched food category in their budgets.

The MSNBC reports that “U.S. food prices rose 4 percent last year, the fastest pace in nearly two decades, according to the Agriculture Department. Many staples are rising even faster, with white bread up 13 percent last year, bacon up 7 percent and peanut butter up 9 percent. There’s no sign of a slowdown. Food inflation is running at an annualized rate of 6.1 percent as of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Seems the trend is only going to get worse before it gets better. Even the price of SPAM is up although the price increase isn’t negatively impacting sales. The low cost of SPAM makes it an attractive buy for frugal consumers.

What is Spam anyway?

Ever wonder what’s in that famous metal blue can? I know I have. Surprisingly it isn’t such a big “mystery meat” after all. According the Amazing SPAM Home Page, the ingredients are as follows:

  • chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added
  • salt (for binding, flavor, and firmness)
  • water (to help in mixing)
  • sugar (for flavor)
  • sodium Nitrite (for color and as a preservative)

Not as weird as you thought huh? The only two things that made me go “hmmm..” where: The difference in pork and ham and sodium nitrite?

Turns out, sodium nitrate is an ingredient found in many processed meats and is added for two reasons:

  1. Preserves the red/pink color of cooked meat
  2. Inhibit botulism

The jury is still out on whether sodium nitrate is bad for us. Of course consumed in large quantities it has caused cancer in lab animals but canned meats contain very low quantities of sodium nitrate. I wouldn’t recommend eating 10 cans at a time or anything.

As for the difference in pork and ham? Turns out to be an easy answer: Pork is anything from pig and ham is a part of the pig.
Ham is to pork as steak is to beef. So SPAM is mostly chopped shoulder meat with ham added in to make it taste better.

Some Spam Statistics

Here are some interesting statistics on SPAM:

  • In the United States, 3.8 cans of SPAM are consumed every second.
  • Hawaiians eat an average of four cans of SPAM per person per year (this is the highest SPAM consumption rate per capita in the world).
  • Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia eats a SPAM and mayonnaise sandwich three times a week.
  • Nikita Krushchev credited SPAM with the survival of the WWII Russian army. Quothe the Krushchev: “Without SPAM, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.”

Spam Recipes

The internet is full of SPAM recipes and having tried a few over the course of my years some of them are pretty good. Here are some links to just a few of the more notable sites:

Let me know if you find one you particularly like!

Your Thoughts?

I’ve been eating SPAM off and on since as far back as I remember. I recall my mom frying it, making sandwiches and mixing it in with eggs. I honestly like the flavor. There is something about eating meat from a can that makes me a little nervous, but I’m okay with it. I’m 38 years old and still alive :-)

We don’t eat SPAM much, but my wife does on occasion grab a can, fry it up and make sandwiches or SPAM burgers. It makes for something a little different and our kids seem to really like it. I really like it mixed in with scrambled eggs.

How about you? Do you eat SPAM? What are your thoughts about it? Add a comment!

Photo by: janetgalore

19 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Sales of SPAM on the rise”

  1. Chris Eaker Says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve eaten Spam, but I recall it being very, very salty, too salty for my taste. But hey, it’s cheap and if you like it, go for it.

  2. Gloria Says:

    Thanks for this post. I think I will buy some SPAM soon as I haven’t had any in a while. Have been eating, and loving, it since I was a child.

  3. "Mo" Money Says:

    I remember that I really didn’t care that much for it, but I think most of it was in my head. As a child we grew our own vegatables and butchered our own meat. So Spam was not something we ate, it was considered below us (even though we were kinda poor). Thanks for the post, I’ll give it a try.

  4. Steward Says:

    The thing about SPAM is that I’m not so sure it is that cheap. I think if you work it out it turns out to be about $6 a pound. Right now you could get 3 pounds of beef for $6 at a local grocery store in my area. I guess the only difference is that SPAM lasts f.o.r.e.v.e.r while my 3 pound package of fresh meat needs to be eaten fairly quickly.

  5. Mom of 4 Says:

    If you do the math, the price per pound for Spam is $5.98. IMO, that’s not cheap! Being a Certified Master Tightwad ™, I’ve set a $1.99/lb ceiling for meat. By watching the sales, I keep us well stocked with a variety meat at that price or lower. I’d much rather pay $1.29/lb for pork shoulder and slow-cook it to moist and tender yumminess than to eat Spam, m’self!

  6. Pete Says:

    I love SPAM! It comes from my home state – Minnesota. They even have a SPAM museum here in Austin, MN.

  7. Justin Says:

    Spam? No. Dinty Moore stew, sometimes. Canned foods are something we try to avoid as much as possible in our house. It’s one of those products that isn’t from the perimeter of the grocery store, so following that rule of thumb it’s not good for you.

  8. sir jorge Says:

    I’ve found that not just food in general is rising, it’s a lot of processed food. Although, SPAM has never been on my radar even at my poorest.

    If people would just open their eyes, you’ll notice that food is NOT rising like the media says they are.

    I stopped going out completely and have been spending a lot more time in the kitchen and my food spending is at an all time low. People just need to stop blaming things, and start opening their eyes!

  9. ChristianPF Says:

    I must just be a food snob, but I really think I would have a hard time getting it down ;) Something about the fact it is in a can, the color, and the smell…

  10. Going Gazelle Says:

    Anybody else into real slow smoked BBQ?

    Sodium nitrates is what creates the “smoke ring” in BBQ. Its what makes that pink ring around the outside edge of smoked meat.

  11. marci Says:

    Correction on your Ham is to Pork what Steak is to Beef….
    That would be Ham is to Pork what Corned Beef is to Beef..
    Ham is cured, brined, and sometimes smoked… as is Corned Beef.
    Steak is not usually cured and brined.

    SPAM is a staple in my diet and always will be!
    I buy it in the 6 packs or 12 packs at Costco or at Grocery Outlet –
    for as little as $1.69 can. I use 2 or 3 cans a month. I consider it a luxury tho, and not a frugal meal. Besides the regular spam, the spam and cheese is good and the smoked spam is good. I’m not real fond of the turkey spam – it’s definitely missing something.

    The sodium nitrate is in a lot of your hotdogs, sausages, and processed lunch meats. It seems to cause water retention, along with the salt, in some people – so I do watch how much I ingest. And some, like my son, are actually allergic to sodium nitrate.

    Spam and mayo sandwiches, fried spam and fried eggs and potatoes.
    Cubed sauted Spam in scrambled eggs and omelets.
    Cubed with cheese and veggies on toothpicks.
    Cubed, fried w/onions and folded into slightly fried Swiss Chard or Spinach.
    Baked with pineapple rings and cloves like a ham.
    Basically, you can use it anywhere bacon or ham would be used – lots and lots of places :) Very versatile and always in the cupboard ready to use, and not needing defrosted. Easy quick meal.

    I grew up in South Florida a long long time ago – it was a favorite childhood treat.

  12. Jon Says:

    Spam fried rice w/ pineapple is quite good.

  13. Xenko Says:

    Any red meat you buy likely contains sodium nitrate… otherwise it wouldn’t be red, and wouldn’t live up to consumer expectations. That nice red colour you see when you buy ground beef? Sodium Nitrate! Without it, it would be grey coloured, and although it might be healthier, no one is going to buy grey ground beef because they will think it has gone bad.

    It’s a similar phenomena to soap suds. Companies will specifically add chemicals to soaps to make them have lots of suds, but only if you are going to actually see it, because people EXPECT soap to make lots of nice bubbles if it is working. In automatic dishwasher detergent, they don’t add these because it would increase the cost, and no one can see inside the dishwasher to witness the fact that there are no bubbles.

    Consumer expectations must be met.

  14. Xenko Says:

    Bah. Correction: everywhere I said nitrate, replace that with nitrite!