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Why is the ground meat often sold in 1.25-1.3 lb packages?

fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 07:06 PM

I don't know if you're local stores do this as well, but for specific ground meat, most notably the ground turkey and 96% ground beef, they are only sold in 1.25-1.3 lb packages which drives me up a wall because in general I want 1 lb and then have to deal with the excess which might not seem like very much but it can be frustrating or maybe I'm the only one :) Is there a reason for this and why does it only seem to be particular kinds of ground meat? The other % beef, ground veal, ground pork, ground lamb, etc all seem to come in nice little 1 lb packages.

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  1. CapeCodGuy RE: fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 07:17 PM

    They do it to annoy you.....AND ME!!!

    Stop and Shop and Shaws dominate the local market scene and do this for all meats that they grind in house. Only branded meats like Sunnybrook Farm turkey is sold in 1 lb. Packages. It's the very reason I'll go out of my way to shop at places like Roche Bros who will weigh and pakage their meats to order. And now that Market Basket has come to town they frequently package 1 pound and smaller packages. And if you ask them to break out just a pound out of a larger package, they do so with smile.

    Bottom line is the stores that package 1.3 pounds of ground meat put profits ahead of customer satisfaction.

    3 Replies
    1. re: CapeCodGuy
      fldhkybnva RE: CapeCodGuy Mar 26, 2013 07:24 PM

      I'm quite cynical and that was my initial conclusion, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only person that went there :) I also am not sure if there's a devious explanation as to why at least at my local Safeway it seems to be the leanest meats of the bunch.

      Also at my store it's not just the in-store ground meat but what I think is a national brand - Shady Brook Farms which sells turkey products.

      1. re: fldhkybnva
        sunshine842 RE: fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 11:45 PM

        there are an awful lot of people who go out of their way to buy lean ground beef....muscle is more expensive than fat -- they're not making THAT switch to rip you off.

        1. re: sunshine842
          fldhkybnva RE: sunshine842 Mar 27, 2013 06:19 AM

          I guess my sarcasm was lost. I am one who seeks out lean meat much of the time which is why I noticed this difference which at my store seems to be restricted to the leanest meats.

    2. t
      tardigrade RE: fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 07:20 PM

      A now defunct grocery used to sell ground meat in quantities of about 1/2 pound and about a pound: I suspect that was because the packager scooped out what looked like a good amount and that was what it came to. If it were consistently 1.25 lb that would be odd. These days the store I usually shop at has live people at the meat counter so I just ask for the amount I want and get that.

      My guess is that the pre-measured amounts come from the supplier, and since markets want to maximize their profit margin they somehow decided that was what most people wanted. Have you tried asking for a smaller amount?

      1 Reply
      1. re: tardigrade
        fldhkybnva RE: tardigrade Mar 26, 2013 07:26 PM

        I haven't but now that you mention it I might although this is a run of the mill Safeway which I don't think would be up to it as they aren't usually into any sort of assistance like that. At my local Whole foods it seems that most of the ground meat comes in packages close as possible to 1 lb or 1/2 lb increments although there it is clear that you can request a particular amount as it's displayed prominently with the rest of the meat which you have to request.

      2. juliejulez RE: fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 08:19 PM

        See I wish my store would do that! I don't like 1lb packages because they always cook down to 12oz-13oz or so, which for me, isn't enough for 4 servings, whereas 16 legit cooked ounces is. My store is always right around 1lb. These days I grind my own for burgers, but I do also buy in bulk at Costco for things like skillet meals, pasta dishes and casseroles, that way I can put in my own "packages" of my desired size when I portion and freeze.

        But perhaps that is why they do it, cause 1.3lbs would cook down to around 1lb. Or, they want to sell more meat and they know people will buy the larger packages even when all they need is a lb.

        16 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez
          sunshine842 RE: juliejulez Mar 26, 2013 11:37 PM

          I agree with you -- I'm thinking it's shrinkage.

          I have yet to find a recipe where an extra few ounces of hamburger makes a lick of difference -- I just throw it all in there.

          1. re: sunshine842
            fldhkybnva RE: sunshine842 Mar 27, 2013 06:15 AM

            It doesn't ruin the recipe but for the calorie counting bunch it throws things off when you meal plan based on 1 lb which is the usual amount and then have leftovers. It's fine we just save them, I just wondered why it's not all ground products but seems to only be a few which are always like this. I guess I'm the only one annoyed.

            1. re: fldhkybnva
              sunshine842 RE: fldhkybnva Mar 27, 2013 06:50 AM

              if it makes you feel any better, they sell ground beef in Europe in packages containing 600g or 700g.

              Why not stop at 500g?

              (and a few ounces of lean hamburger, divided across several servings/people still doesn't make a statistically significant difference.)

              1. re: sunshine842
                fldhkybnva RE: sunshine842 Mar 27, 2013 07:31 AM


                1. re: sunshine842
                  c oliver RE: sunshine842 Mar 27, 2013 08:53 AM

                  That made me chuckle. I'm always converting grams to ounces, Euros to dollars, etc. And don't even get me started on figuring out what a "gallon" of gasoline costs. I'm too old for this :)

              2. re: sunshine842
                CapeCodGuy RE: sunshine842 Mar 27, 2013 08:39 AM

                If I'm making burgers for two, then I get two very large ones out of one pound. If i get a package that is 1.33 pounds then it's either two ridiculous sized burgers or I have an extra that must go into the freezer. And I don't care what anybody says, once frozen, ground meat is never the same.

                1. re: CapeCodGuy
                  GH1618 RE: CapeCodGuy Mar 27, 2013 08:54 AM

                  Another way to look at it is that a pound is too much for two burgers — two-thirds of a pound is better. With one and one-third pound, you just need to divide it in half. You don't need to freeze half if you use it reasonably soon.

                  Any way you slice it, you can think of an example which either fits the package size or not, whatever the package size. That's why it's better to get it where you can purchase only what you need.

                  1. re: CapeCodGuy
                    c oliver RE: CapeCodGuy Mar 27, 2013 08:56 AM

                    When we started grinding our own beef (and now pork) for burgers, I started making 6oz. ones. Now that's down to 5oz and that's still plenty. And I don't care that you don't care :) but my burgers from the freezer (tightly wrapped in plastic and then zipbags) are still bright red and the same consistency as when they went in. And related to OP's question, I don't know why they do that. When I buy meat at the deli counter they seem capable of getting darned close to what I ask for. I guess it's upselling.

                    1. re: c oliver
                      CapeCodGuy RE: c oliver Mar 27, 2013 01:28 PM

                      In our house a 5 to 6 ounce burger is a great 'lunch ' burger but we'll go 8 typically for dinner, sans roll.

                      And I don't care, that you don't care, that I don't care, but I can always tell if ground meat is fresh or previously frozen. Always.

                      So now I'm curious. Who else can't tell the difference?

                      1. re: CapeCodGuy
                        c oliver RE: CapeCodGuy Mar 27, 2013 02:27 PM

                        Sez me :) I'm just kiddin' around but *I* can't tell the diff. 'Course homeground is so good that maybe that's why I can't tell.

                    2. re: CapeCodGuy
                      BeefeaterRocks RE: CapeCodGuy Mar 27, 2013 10:36 AM

                      At our house it is one for Mr. BR, one for me, and a small one for the dog.

                    3. re: sunshine842
                      Veggo RE: sunshine842 Mar 27, 2013 09:10 AM

                      "I'm thinking it's shrinkage." - isn't that a George Costanza line?

                      1. re: Veggo
                        fourunder RE: Veggo Mar 28, 2013 05:22 AM

                        I think it moved....

                    4. re: juliejulez
                      coll RE: juliejulez Mar 27, 2013 06:07 AM

                      I always assumed the same. As a matter of fact, I suspect they put one lb of chop meat and then add the rest as pure fat to get rid of it. But I'm suspicious by nature!

                      1. re: coll
                        paulj RE: coll Mar 27, 2013 08:23 AM

                        Some cuts of beef are quite lean, such as rump. But other's are naturally 20% fat (or there abouts), such as chuck. And if they were to grind well marbled steak, the fat proportion might even be higher.

                      2. re: juliejulez
                        greygarious RE: juliejulez Mar 27, 2013 01:39 PM

                        I agree. I think most people use 5-6 oz when making a burger, based on the size of prepackaged frozen burger patties in my supermarket. That means 4 burgers, no leftover meat, from the over-sized package.

                      3. g
                        GH1618 RE: fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 08:36 PM

                        I think it's arbitrary. There is nothing special about a pound. If I wanted a pound and a third, and the packages were all one lb, it would be just as annoying. They package it however it works out best for their business, not how it works out best for one particular customer.

                        I use a grocery that I like in every respect except for the low-service meat department, where nearly everything is prepackaged. I've switched to another market just for meats (and a few other special items), just because it is full service. All the ground meat is ground there and sold in bulk, just like the old days. It's an extra trip, but there's no alternative.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: GH1618
                          fldhkybnva RE: GH1618 Mar 27, 2013 06:12 AM

                          I don't think I consider 1 lb arbitrary but that's just me.

                        2. paulj RE: fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 11:20 PM

                          Are we talking about packages of meat that look like they just came out of the grinder (often a ring)? Or blocks that have been packed by machine?

                          Imagine the meat coming out of the grinder like macaroni. You cut off a chunk and let if fall into a foam tray. Then you weigh it. If it weighs more than 1 lb, should you peck away at it till it is exactly 1 lb? or if less, add some random bits to bring it up to 1lb. Or should you just run it through the wrapper, and get on with the next lump?

                          Would you, as a customer, buy a package that had been tweaked in such a manner? Or would you prefer a package where the meat is neatly arranged, without signs of further handling?

                          And if you had a choice between buying a package that weighs .89 lb, and one the weighs 1.21, which would you choose? why?

                          I'm guessing that neat packages of ground meat weighing a bit over 1 lb sell better than ones that are under 1lb, or ones that do not look so pretty.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: paulj
                            fldhkybnva RE: paulj Mar 27, 2013 06:12 AM

                            It's always the same amount over 1 lb so this doesn't really explain it.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                              Uncle Bob RE: fldhkybnva Mar 27, 2013 10:59 AM

                              If you ever had to manually "catch" ground meat coming out of a non-stop commercial grinder in a tray designed to hold about a pound of meat, Paul's explanation would explain it perfectly. ~~ You would probably get into a routine and produce packages that weighed..lets say in the neighborhood of 1.25 or 1.3 lbs per package or so. ~~ If you are talking about some type of fully automated process, then that's a different story. ~~ I grind my own meat and never put up a package that is exactly 16 oz. I'm not that anal about it. They are always some small, differing amounts over 1 lb. Sometimes pushing 1.5 lbs.

                          2. j
                            John Francis RE: fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 11:54 PM

                            That's not an issue with me - not at all, as long as it's priced according to the weight. What recipes are spoiled if a bit more ground meat is added than prescribed?

                            1. JMF RE: fldhkybnva Mar 27, 2013 05:55 AM

                              I have seen this as well. I think it may be because the amount of ground meat that fills one of those trays is that weight.

                              1. firecooked RE: fldhkybnva Mar 27, 2013 07:54 AM

                                Growing up, there were 5 in our family, so mom always bought 1.25 lbs of hamburger... We often got beef by the half or quarter and that's how she requested it packaged. So all my "old favorite" recipes call for 1.25 lbs of burger!

                                1. m
                                  masha RE: fldhkybnva Mar 27, 2013 08:11 AM

                                  Why don't you buy a few packages at a time, divide them into multiple packages of approximately 1lb each -- e.g. 3 packages of 1.3 lb, redivided as 4 1lb packages -- and then freeze the packages that you don't need?

                                  Or, do what I do: Use an old-fashioned butcher where they grind their meat on site and will package them exactly as you request. In addition to the convenience of getting packages of the precise size that I want, I have a much higher degree of confidence in the food-safety because it's not being ground at an industrial butcher where e coli & other contaminants are more likely to be present.

                                  (When my son was still at home, our household of 3 typically consumed about 1.25 -1.3 lb of ground meat at a time, so packages that were exactly 1 lb would have frustrated me.)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: masha
                                    fldhkybnva RE: masha Mar 27, 2013 08:24 AM

                                    I would love to have an old-fashioned butcher but I think it often gets lost around here that not all of us have access to such options either due to general availability in the area or convenience. We actually do do what you mentioned, because it's better than freezing 1/4 lb but I just wanted to ask to see if there was any reason for this difference that I noticed and I guess not.

                                  2. Gastronomos RE: fldhkybnva Mar 27, 2013 01:35 PM

                                    Upselling a greater amount at a higher price for higher profit.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Gastronomos
                                      GH1618 RE: Gastronomos Mar 27, 2013 04:37 PM

                                      Not likely. It's more likely a result of market research. When supermarket meat departments commonly prepared and packaged their own ground beef, it came in assorted sizes. When bar code scanning came in, groceries could easily track their sales, so they could know which sizes sold best. When they switched to prepackaged ground beef of a fixed size, it seems likely that they would have picked a popular size.

                                    2. c oliver RE: fldhkybnva Mar 30, 2013 11:24 AM

                                      I was in Safeway (huge regional chain) this morning and asked. He said cause corporate requires them to 'aim' for 1-1/4#/package. He said they even used to "audit" that strenuously. He pointed out the prepackaged ground turkey that's now up to 20oz. Total upselling.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: c oliver
                                        fldhkybnva RE: c oliver Mar 30, 2013 12:42 PM

                                        Wow, thanks for the info. The prepackaged ground turkey at my store is always 20 oz

                                        1. re: c oliver
                                          GH1618 RE: c oliver Mar 30, 2013 03:15 PM

                                          That's not evidence of "upselling" (whatever that means), it is only evidence of a policy to sell a particular size, for whatever reason.

                                          1. re: GH1618
                                            c oliver RE: GH1618 Mar 30, 2013 04:10 PM

                                            If not to make more money, what earthly reason would one of the nation's largest retailers have in mandating this policy? I don't think I've ever seen a recipe that says "oh, just throw in how ever much ground beef you want. A pound. A pound and a quarter. A pound and a third."

                                            1. re: c oliver
                                              GH1618 RE: c oliver Mar 30, 2013 04:28 PM

                                              Whatever the recipe calls for, it is not necessarily going to match the package, whatever the package size is. If I need a pound and a half, a package of a pound and a quarter could just as well be called "doenselling." Actually, it's just selling, but by inflexible amounts.

                                              When recipes specify beef in whole-pound units, it is merely for the convenience of the menu writer. What kind of cook would make exactly the amount called for in a recipe, regardless of the number of people eating, their appetites, and the desire (or not) for leftovers? One poor at arithmetic, I suppose.

                                              1. re: GH1618
                                                c oliver RE: GH1618 Mar 30, 2013 04:44 PM

                                                No one has recently turned down an invite here and I'm pretty quick with the math :) But if I make a recipe that calls for a pound of ANY meat, and I know I will need to increase by 50% or 100%, I increase the entire recipe. If ground meat came in pounds and half pounds, it would be might easy.

                                        2. s
                                          Swayless RE: fldhkybnva Mar 30, 2013 02:18 PM

                                          I dont know what happened, thought I hit reply and sent my post.
                                          If this is a double,post, my bad.
                                          I work in the meat dept of a local grocery chain, specifically specialty cuts where we have our own meat counter with full service with select beef, pork, chicken and seafood. We also grind and do our own cuts, so all chops, steaks and etc are done by us. The machines we use for grinding is operated by a foot switch, which activates the auger to push the meat into the grind. It's rather impossible to hit a pound spot on using this machine, we know the range because we do this all day.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Swayless
                                            c oliver RE: Swayless Mar 30, 2013 02:59 PM

                                            You do realize, of course, that nowadays your type of meat counter is quickly disappearing. And, no, hitting it exactly would be impossible but being over every single time in the range of 25% is no accident. I grind my own meat so don't care :)

                                            1. re: Swayless
                                              coll RE: Swayless Mar 30, 2013 03:36 PM

                                              I think it's interesting, hearing how it's done backstage. I'm sure you're not allowed to go below a pound, and I'm sure a quarter over isn't but a blip in time. I do occasionally see a lot closer to 16 oz. 1.1 and so on.

                                              1. re: coll
                                                Swayless RE: coll Mar 30, 2013 06:39 PM

                                                Well it all depends on the workload as well as luck and practice. Not every two pulls are going to be the same, even if they are timed out presses of the foot switch. (IE: Hold for exactly 1.5 seconds.) Seeing how hamburger grind is a mix of fat and muscle, not every bit of it is going to be perfectly mixed as it comes out, so you'll have packets of density that also affect the weight.

                                              2. re: Swayless
                                                c oliver RE: Swayless Mar 30, 2013 04:47 PM

                                                I forgot to point out that the meat in question isn't being ground there. It's being ground in vast quantities, frozen in probably somewhat smaller big quantities, shipped to the local grocer who thaws it, weighs it and packages it. Could not be farther from the worthy career you pursue. And I MEAN that. I used to a have meat cutter nabe and it took a lot of training to do what he did.

                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                  GH1618 RE: c oliver Mar 30, 2013 04:59 PM

                                                  In some cases, the packaging seems to be done regionally. My local Raley's does not grind pork, and I don't believe they package it either, because all the packages are identical in size. It is likely produced, packaged, and shipped from a regional center. The inflexibility is what sent me to another market for ground meat, where I can buy exactly what I need.

                                              3. g
                                                GH1618 RE: fldhkybnva Mar 30, 2013 08:26 PM

                                                Here's a link to an article which explains another reason for pre-packaged ground meat. Packaging machinery can use a modified atmosphere which gives the meat a longer shelf life and inhibits bacterial growth.


                                                1. firecooked RE: fldhkybnva Apr 1, 2013 08:27 AM

                                                  Just FYI, Trader Joes sells their hamburger in 1 lb packages

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