Don't pay too much for the sweet stuff

Sugar Chicanery

by Rich Finzer

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No doubt about it, we Americans love our sugar. According to a table published by the USDA, as of 2000, annual consumption of table sugar was nearly 66 pounds per person! That's slightly over 13 of those yellow five-pound bags of the stuff. As a basic commodity, you'd think sugar prices would be consistent, but they are not. A recent trip to my local grocery proved that beyond any doubt.

In the baking products' aisle, I found those ever so familiar bright yellow five-pound bags of granulated cane sugar. Marked $3.29, the price worked out to about 66 cents per pound. Right next to the bags was a second choice, a yellow four-pound plastic canister priced at $3.99, or roughly $1 per pound, almost 50 percent higher than the same stuff in the bag. I'm having trouble understanding why anyone with half a brain would pay 70 cents more for a package containing 20 percent less product. I suppose it's simply another blatant example of the "wages of convenience." And if you think that pricing disparity was bad, it got even worse.

Next to the yellow sugar packages, I found the store brand. A five-pound bag of its granulated sugar was priced at $4.19 or roughly 84 cents per pound. Yikes! And in this case at least, it certainly gives lie to the idea that private label or store brands always carry lower prices. The bottom line is to pay attention when buying granulated table sugar or the only thing you'll be sweetening up is the grocery store's profits.

Take the Next Step:

  • Want some new ideas for ways to use all that sugar that you just bought for a great price? Then check out these dessert recipes here.

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