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

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. 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

      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

        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

          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. 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

        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. 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

          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

            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

              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

                  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 :)

              1. re: sunshine842

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

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

                    3. re: sunshine842

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

                    4. re: juliejulez

                      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

                        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

                        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. 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

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

                        2. 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

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

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                      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. 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

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

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          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

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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. 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

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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

                                                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

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