Sunday, July 08, 2012

Bacon arbitrage

At Whole Foods yesterday a woman took a to go box and was filling it with bacon. Nothing but bacon. Her 5 or 6-year old son was pestering her and she told him that they were getting it to make bacon sandwiches.  She was not small, but not as large as the amount of bacon she was buying might imply.

Honestly, at $7.99 a pound at the hot bar, cooked bacon is a brilliant deal. I don't know what portion of the weight of a package of bacon is cooked out in the pan, but it's a lot.  We bought Graham bacon in a couple of iterations.  I bought one piece and the scale weighed it in at 24 cents, and then Mary bought two pieces and paid 9 cents. I'll bet she bought pieces that were more well done, but part of the difference was probably in the sensitivity of the scale.

If I had a small restaurant or a food cart or truck, I'd totally go to Whole Foods in the morning and buy a container of bacon.  It would probably be cheaper than buying or cooking, and would probably save a lot of cooking and cleaning too, if you don't have a big flat grill.

From the Whole Foods perspective, it's OK to have a few arbitrageurs like that because you'll make it up the other lower weight to value items (biscuits, eggs, etc.).  But if I saw this happening a lot, I'd quickly reprice the bacon (just like their cheese grits, which you purchase by the square unit rather than by weight).  The problem would come when the check-out line starts to get slowed down by more items to ring up and people in line get pissed off as their eggs get cold.

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