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Why is cheese so damn expensive in Salt Lake City?

In Salt Lake City, cheese of all kinds of expensive. Even the stuff from Wisconsin is priced much higher than the same stuff is priced on the east coast--but it has to be easier and less expensive to get cheese from Wisconsin to SLC.

Not only that, but there's a big milk-producing area here, the Cache Valley.

So why should cheese of all kinds be so horribly overpriced here? Oh, well, of course, the stuff I consider....umm...not very interesting, like "American cheese" and other stuff sold in 2-lb blocks, is not all that expensive. But anything like Brie, even domestic brie from Wisc., is expensive, ditto blue cheese, anything imported (e.g. Jarlsberg).

I have one guess: perhaps the more interesting cheeses are regarded as a luxury, and priced accordingly.

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  1. I used to visit SLC (relatives lived there for 4 decades....
    I do recall that food in geneal was very expensive out there...our theory was transportation costs....

    1. yes, it's transport costs. In much of the middle of the country, there aren't even any decent distributors, so for the most part, everything is flown or shipped in, which greatly adds to the cost.

      Also, since local distribution is lacking in the middle of the country (this I know lots about), the trajectory of your WI brie probably is not WI-> UT, but rather WI -> NY (or CA)-> UT. This could even be true of something made in CO.... it can't just pop over the hills to UT, but has to go through the available distribution channels, which aren't always a straight line.

      To say nothing of the import stuff. It costs quite a bit of $$ to drive/fly a chesse imported into NY from Europe to SLC.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheesemonger

        To paraphrase, you live, as we used to say in rural NC, in the middle of nowhere! ;)

      2. Cheesemonger, your ideas re distribution make sense.

        I wonder, however, if another aspect might not be pricing specifically intended to present certain cheese as luxury items.

        Also, I would think that by now the folks in the Cache valley would have grasped the idea that you can sell certain kinds of cheese--blue cheese, ripened (brie etc), swiss-type cheese--for much more than you can sell munster or other "commodity cheese". Not only that, but with the reputation of the population of Utah as hard workers, you'd think they could try to build a reputation as a world-class cheese center. (Tho that might go against some other ideas that I see prevalent in Utah.)

        1. Ok, today I saw .58 pound of St. Andre cheese for $8.69 at the Wild Oats store in Salt Lake City. Is this comparable to other parts of the country?

          1. I find cheese reasonable and on sale. I found it for around $3 a pound this week
            check the grocery ads and delis and stock up when its on sale some cheese
            you can freeze and it keeps just fine.

            1. ROFL, er, sorry......

              Because much of the inexpensive commodity Cache Valley cheese is exported to discount stores here in California. Apparently we don't have enough mediocre cheese production by Hilmar and Joseph Gallo.

              Perhaps your local market cheese buyer is, er, incompetent. Or just simple economics - locals don't eat enough cheese for economy of (purchasing) scale.

              I'd head for Costco - they still have great prices on Tillamook cheeses here; Cabot from Vermont occasionally makes an appearance there at comparible prices.

              EDIT - why are we replying to this old post :-\ ?

              1 Reply
              1. re: DiveFan

                good point DF, I had to look at the dates, but insane prices on EVERYTHING are a current topic (and even more topical), a lot is due to the cost of oil and the diversion of agriculture from food towards methanol.

                but comfy shoes can be so expensive.

              2. recent finds
                Banquet brand cheese is made in Salt Lake City and usually reasonable
                I buy it at Reams
                Grand Tetons aged Cheddar also made by Banquet is fantastic on
                pasta reminds me of fresh Asiago I found it at Harmon's for only $2.49 8 0z block

                At Smiths The bulk block pre packed cheese in the deli area runs under $5 a pound

                I found blue cheese at (Arabat Alibaba) I get confused they are on t he same side
                west parking lot separate entrances doors usually priced under $10 a pound

                VARIABLES milk and cheese is demand driven esp by ice cream and butter
                thus price of cheese cost and transport costs

                Many local cheese producers were purchased by conglomerates
                like Sargento I wont buy their cheese as it is sometimes over priced

                Keep your shopping ears on
                The recent Sunflower Mkt Merger will become Sprouts Farmers Mkt later this year
                Winco and Kroger stores may start price wars
                as Associated Foods was trying to cause a grocery monopoly in Utah
                I sure miss Safeway and IGA maybe they will move back to Utah?

                1. Next time I leave Utah I'll pay attention to this. Obviously I buy it without giving it a second thought because....I live in Utah! :-D

                  In a few weeks I'm visiting the Oregon coast and will hit up the Tillamook factory. Mmmmm.