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What's up with the price of Mayonnaise?

I hate feeling like I got ripped off which happens almost every time I go in the grocery store. Today the local supermarket has Hellman's Mayonnaise 'on sale' for $3.99 per jar, reduced from $4.49. A 30 oz jar - not the old familiar 32 oz jar. This makes mayonnaise $15.96 per gallon, more than four times the price of gas locally ($3.39 per gallon). As far as I know, mayonnaise is just eggs & oil and some salt & spices; no exotic ingredients, nothing imported from the middle east, no insane labor intensive costs. So, is this just a company charging what it can? Anybody have a good recipe for a Hellman's knock off?

Ok - that's the end of today's rant.

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  1. The rise in price of Hellmanns mayo, and change of jar size, that you're talking about happened about five years ago. I still get it numerous times a year on sale for $2.99, usually with some kind of quantity cap. Wait a couple of weeks for Memorial Day and stock up.

    And no, I don't think there is any knockoff or home recipe that will duplicate Hellmanns exactly.

    3 Replies
    1. re: coll

      Coll, I agree and use the same strategy. When I see it on sale, I buy about 3 or four jars and lasts for at least 6 months. (Four people living in the household)

      1. re: PHREDDY

        Sometimes the limit is two, but if I'm back in the area later that week......what the heck!

      2. re: coll

        Agree completely. Also look for coupons. Often the Sunday inserts have coupons for $1 off the purchase of 2 jars, especially in lead up to holidays like Memorial Day, so that the net price is only $2.50 per jar you can find it on sale at $2.99.

      3. Exactly why I always chuckle when people complain about the price of gas. Compared to a lot of foods, $4 per gallon is cheap.

        2 Replies
        1. re: wadejay26

          Compared to most of the world, $4 a gallon is very cheap gasoline.

          1. re: wadejay26

            The problem is though..you don't buy 17 gallons of mayonnaise at once. Every couple of weeks.

          2. And now the second ingredient is water...it's not even the same quality as in years past. Stopped buying, make my own--no, it's not exactly the same but for the little we use, I will save the money.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gourmanda

              If you want to make it taste exactly like Hellman's, add a dollop of dijon mustard.

              1 egg yolk, pinch of salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1-2 cups whatever oil you want.

            2. you are going to the wrong grocery stores and don't watch the real sales. $4.49 to $3.99 is hardly a "sale" in my book. now…onto the real crux:

              harris teeter has BOGO sales on hellman's and duke's at least once per quarter. giant also regularly has hellman's at @$2.99. safeway i don't shop at too much, because harris teeter has a lot of BOGO sales, and you don't have to buy TWO, only one at half-price. (unique among the stores).

              mayo sales are always best in front of holidays, so the next best time to stock up is probably next week, with memorial day (!) in the offing.

              check the weekly fliers. that's where to learn how to save $, buying what's on sale. mayo lasts in the pantry (unopened) for quite a while). once you get the hang of the sales-timing issues, you'll begin to save on lots of staples.

              1 Reply
              1. What's the price oil?

                1. Oil and eggs are getting pricy too... all groceries are! I wait for the two-for-one sales and buy two different flavours of mayo - at the rate we use it, that lasts six months...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kajikit

                    I still dream about the days, not long ago, when they gave away eggs for free around Easter.

                  2. This is where Sam's Club or Costco really comes in handy. They usually have the 64oz. for $6 to $7. The Kirkland brand is actually pretty good too. If you don't have a membership, ask a friend to pick some up.

                    I also stock up on the $2.99 sales and currently have around 4 jars in the pantry. My husband is constantly grossed out by the amount of mayo I insist on having in the house.

                    26 Replies
                      1. re: NonnieMuss

                        I'm happy with the taste of Western Family store brand. Grocery Outlet often has Best/Hellmans near expiration date.

                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                          Costco usually has Hellman's/Best Foods on coupon twice a year, last month a 64 oz jar was $4.99. I think the real issue is super markets gouging the consumer.

                          1. re: treb

                            It isn't gouging. The supermarket business is very competitive. Higher-priced supermarkets provide better service and attract customers willing to pay for it. Stores like Costco and Grocery Outlet have a different business model which allows them to sell at lower prices. There is a place for both.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              Oh no doubt customers enjoy their super markets. On the rare occasion I'm in one, I can't believe how crowded they are and enjoy watching smiling customers dole out $$$$ for next to nothing. I choose to limit my wallet pain.

                              1. re: treb

                                Retail supermarkets, and big box stores like Costco, buy from different supply chain wholesalers, there is no fair comparison really.

                                1. re: coll

                                  I didn't intend to compare them, they're apples and oranges. The real issue is what bang I get for my buck.

                                  1. re: treb

                                    Just saying, I don't think any food place is gouging on mayo, just a fair markup over cost. Some oddball item that sells once a year, yes, and why not?

                                    1. re: coll

                                      Amplify that mind set for every item in your shopping cart and you're paying a lot. That's what the majority does.

                                      1. re: treb

                                        I buy everything on price, but if I buy 30 lbs of mayo and throw out 25 that's not accomplishing much.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          Now your talking unit cost, which is what I do, vs what I can consume. I don't buy what I can't use no matter what the unit cost.

                                          1. re: treb

                                            That's the only way to buy ;-)

                                2. re: treb

                                  It's a false equivalence. If you are doing all your shopping at Grocery Outlet to save money, you will get a good price on Hellman's when they have it, and do without it if they don't have it when you need it. You will also do without many other things entirely.

                              2. re: treb

                                and Costco sells 30 lb boxes of mayo (heavy duty) for less than a $1 a pound.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  No, Costco sells 64 oz jars of Hellman's/Best Foods and their own Kirkland brand.

                                  1. re: treb

                                    Some locations do sell the 30 lb boxes.

                                    1. re: acgold7

                                      I've only seen it at Restaurant Depot here. Not a jar though, bag in a box.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        coll, have you ever seen "admiral" mayo there at restaurant depot? i like it. it is really thick. admiral oil is good, too.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Admiration? It's out there no question, when price is an issue.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            YEs, that's it! how large are those containers? ;-).

                                            i think it was the name of a mayo i liked at a local burger joint, but maybe i guessed at it? who knows. good with fries.

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              It's as cheap as it gets, they do sell it by the gallon at food distributors. A few bucks at most.

                                      2. re: acgold7

                                        I've never seen a 30 lb box of mayo at a Costco, not even at their business centers.

                                  2. re: treb

                                    Only 1/3 of Costco's profit comes from product sales, without the money they make from memberships, everything would be much more expensive. Grocery store margins are the worst. There's a very fine line between solvency and bankruptcy for many large food chains.

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      i'd heard the margins for grocery chains are around 1½%. this article says 1-3% : http://smallbusiness.chron.com/profit...

                                      here is an intereting list by chains (most of which i do not recognize, those being outside of the US): http://biz.yahoo.com/p/734conameu.htm...
                                      now, in general (and not responding to ferret):

                                      i get GREAT deals at grocery stores shopping on sales. i am not a dumbo because i am in the majority who shop at grocery stores. for our family of two, for week to week food, i am better off shopping at grocery stores rather than costco and the like, for the most part.

                                      the "i am smarter than thou" attitude because of where one shops is just plain silly elitism. it is akin to the government telling me it knows better how to spend my money than i do.

                                      1. re: ferret

                                        However, super markets rely on rapid turnover of their merch. That's how they make profits.

                                        1. re: treb

                                          don't you WANT rapid turnover of merchandise?

                                  3. I'm not sure where you live, but try shopping in a less well-off part of town. Even the same supermarket chains can have different prices, different sales and different manager's specials to appeal to their customer base. If you're shopping where the rich people shop, you're going to get rich people prices.

                                    I've also noticed recently that the quality of store brands has gone drastically up. Store brand mayo is probably more similar to Hellman's than anything you could make (and much cheaper).

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                      my experience has been national chains have regional prices that are the same. so for the same price rich areas demand better produce and meat and get it. in poor areas product is shockingly inferior and the same price.
                                      store bought mayo, and i much prefer best foods, lasts forever where homemade keeps maybe a week.
                                      one thing i hate is grocery bumps price up then discounts and tells you how much you saved. i have often saved 50% but not really.

                                      1. re: divadmas

                                        Reminds me of a recent experience where I purchased a sale item at a super market and the receipt said I saved more than I spent!

                                        1. re: treb

                                          that can happen -- esp. with loss leaders.

                                          one has to shop at various spots to know what the average prices are around and what are indeed true bargains.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            That's a load of crap, they're not going to 'lose' $ on anything. The reality is they hike the supposed retail price to obnoxious levels then they set a sale price that actually reflects what the product is probably worth. This creates the illusion of 'great savings'. Do they really think we're that stupid. Oh, and don't worry they're not losing $.

                                    2. Yeah, try putting mayo in your gas tank.

                                      1. now I know why my Dad buys this for me in bulk at COSTCO - I never understood why he thought I needed giant tubs of Mayo but I don't look a gift horse in the face - not a product I use much or buy frequently but at these prices I would rather make my own and be able to choose my oil and egg sources, - but hey if it comes as a gift I wont turn up my nose,

                                        1. From the producer's perspective, I believe the spiraling cost is due to the increase in prices of chicken feed...corn especially. Higher prices roll down hill. Corn...chickens....eggs...mayo...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: njmarshall55

                                            ethanol production requires corn. corn prices therefore increase. anything with corn as an input --that goes up in price. great idea that ethanol. NOT.

                                            (not to mention its negative effects otherwise).

                                            higher prices are everywhere due to inflation. the inflation index folks obviously never have to go grocery shopping, or they'd change the factors included in the index.

                                            all inputs into making goods and services are going up in cost, so consumer prices have to reflect that. it is basic economics. that concept eludes many policymakers.

                                          2. Blame biofuels. Prices for vegetable oil products shot through the roof around 2009-2010 and haven't really come down. Best Foods was $4.44 (a nice round number!) at Safeway this week.

                                            I've changed to Kraft though. Not long ago after Kraft changed their formula to mimic Best Foods/Hellman's, Albertsons had Kraft mayo on sale for $1.99 with $1 off coupons on the lid. I tried it, and really liked it a lot, and I'm a lifetime Best Foods guy. I went back for a few more, but there were only a couple left the next day—it was flying off the shelves at that price.

                                            The only thing is that when I buy mayo in bulk it really needs to be stored in the fridge if you buy six months worth. I got burned by that a couple of years ago. Mayo that stays at room temp too long, even unopened, will start to get a funky taste and smell.

                                            1. Stop&Shop had a coupon a few weeks back for $1.99, limit 1 with a $25 purchase. But $2.99 is usually the best sale price around Long Island.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: EM23

                                                That's how S&S gets you. Yah, you get the mayo for 1.99 then you have to buy their other stuff at their ridiculously high prices. So you spend 23.01 on a load of over priced food.

                                                1. re: treb

                                                  I stopped going to Stop and Shop when they put that $25 limit on their coupons. I was always amazed that they didn't have it when they first opened here about five years ago, and I did take advantage.

                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                  Love the Kewpie, but it's no bargain.

                                                2. It rarely goes on sale near me, and that 30oz jar retail is $6+ in manhattan grocery stores (or at least the four major chains i checked). I only buy a jar of mayo once or twice a year so the uptick in price (it used to be around $5) caught me off guard too.

                                                  I'm just adding it to the things i live without list.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                    The special 36oz "bonus" jar is 3.99 at fairway this week. (At least at W74th.) I've never seen it lower than that in manhattan.

                                                    1. re: LNG212

                                                      Oh I forgot about those bonus jars. Not just for the extra mayo but they make great storage containers for frozen soup. Hope they bring them back this summer.

                                                  2. Cains (far better than Hellmans in our opinion) is being advertised at $1.99/qt at a local grocer this week. Include my $1 off coupon and it's time to pick up a jar.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Clams047

                                                      The reason I like Cains is because it is the closest of all of them to Hellmanns. I wouldn't say better though. Unless we're talking price!

                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        More than once, we've had people asking about the mayo used in our foods (and making the switch) Of course, each does have their personal taste preference.

                                                    2. I still buy Hellman's on sale @ $2.99 but the sales come less frequently. You might consider other brands unless, like me, it has to be Hellmans. Many competing brands are made "better" than Hellmans with less water or get a $15.00 immersion blender and make your own, it's easy, fun & cheap: