Why prepared rotisserie chickens are cheaper than ones you cook yourself | CBC Radio


Stroll into nearly any Canadian grocery retailer and also you scent it. Scrumptious, juicy, rotisserie rooster. 

It is simply sitting there, like a beacon, promising consumers a hearty meal they do not need to prepare dinner or clear up after.

The pre-cooked birds are priced between $8 to $12 at bigger grocery chains in Canada, however barring a sale within the meat division, uncooked chickens can typically value extra per fowl at those self same grocery shops.

The lower cost of rotisserie chickens in comparison with uncooked at many shops is regardless of the extra value of spices, packaging, labour and vitality for the handy meal.

One of many causes raw chickens at grocery tales, like those pictured at this Impartial retailer in Yellowknife, value greater than rotisserie chickens is that they’re usually bigger, in line with Rowe Farms. (Shannon Scott/CBC)

So, what the peck is happening? CBC Radio’s The Price of Dwelling dove into the henhouse to seek out out.

Sure, measurement issues — even for chickens

Main Canadian chains, together with Loblaws, Sobeys, Save-On-Meals, Costco and Metro declined to touch upon pricing methods for his or her chickens. 

Nonetheless, Rowe Farms, a smaller grocery chain based mostly in Ontario, agreed to share some inside info. It has been promoting rotisserie chickens since 2008.

Based on Rowe Farms, it would appear like you are paying much less for a cooked fowl, however you are often getting a smaller rooster. Uncooked birds within the cooler part often weigh between 1.6 and 1.8 kilograms, whereas chickens destined for the rotisserie spit are about 1.2 kg.

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Roasted chickens should be across the similar measurement to prepare dinner evenly on a grocery rotisserie, in line with the College of Arksansas’ Casey Owens. She’s a professor of poultry (sure, that is a factor).

Casey Owens, professor of poultry on the College of Arkansas, mentioned on common rotisserie chickens are smaller than uncooked counterparts on the similar grocery retailer to make it simpler to prepare dinner them persistently. (Submitted by Casey Owens)

“In the event that they [grocery stores] get a carcass or rooster that is somewhat bit bigger than that, it might not attain that temperature within the the correct amount of time. So it’ll be crucial that these chickens that they are rotissering are very uniform in measurement for meals security functions,” mentioned Owens, whose official title is Professor of Poultry Science.

Rotisserie chickens are usually marketed with a median weight of 900 grams of cooked meat per rooster.

The rooster expertise at Costco

Nonetheless even when smaller, a grocery retailer rotisserie can nonetheless be cheaper — by weight — than an raw rooster.

For instance, Price of Dwelling picked up a cooked cluck at a Calgary Costco.

The rotisserie rooster was priced at $7.99. After eradicating its plastic packaging and ties, the ready poultry was weighed on a kitchen scale. 

The roasted rotisserie rooster from Costco weighed 1.35 kg. As poultry shrinks when cooked, to calculate the pre-roasting uncooked weight of this fowl 25 per cent was added to that weight. This meant a theoretical pre-rotisserie weight of 1.64 kg for the instance fowl bought at Costco.

These uncooked chickens are bought for $6.49 per kilogram at Costco Wholesale in Calgary. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

At $7.99 for 1.64 kg, the rotisserie fowl could be priced at $4.88 per kilogram.

This compares to $6.49 per kilogram for a uncooked, complete rooster on the similar retailer.

Shopping for an entire raw rooster at Costco will value you 33 per cent extra per kilogram than shopping for a rotisserie rooster from the identical outlet.

Dropping cash on a clucking whole lot

One motive why Costco, and different retailers, can provide a reduction on rotisserie chickens they’ve ready in retailer is as a result of they promote a whole lot of them.

Costco alone mentioned it bought 106 million rotisserie chickens globally within the 2021 fiscal 12 months. The corporate sells so many, it has been reported the warehouse large has constructed its own processing plants to assist preserve a gradual provide of fowl.

In 2020, Costco bought 101 million rotisserie chickens globally. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Retailers are additionally providing a product well-liked with customers. Based on poultry producers, rooster has been probably the most consumed meat in Canada, in addition to the United States, for years.

Rotisserie chickens are additionally a loss chief in line with retailers comparable to Rowe Farms. This means grocers truly lose cash on them, and promote them under value as a method to get clients into shops to ostensibly purchase extra objects.


LISTEN | A superb meal for worth: hear the secrets and techniques of the deli rotisserie rooster 

Price of Dwelling5:43Why does a rotisserie rooster value lower than shopping for a rooster you must prepare dinner your self?


“Our rotisserie chickens are priced the best way they’re as a comfort to our members. An oven roasted rooster is a quick and simple dinner possibility, and our members are possible going to fill their baskets with different objects whereas they’re shopping for a rooster,” wrote Barb Munro, company communications advisor for Calgary Co-op, in an e-mail to Price of Dwelling.

“It is a win-win for our members and our shops.”

I haven’t got time to go residence and rotisserie a rooster … but it surely’s very straightforward for me to go to my native grocery retailer, choose one up.”– Casey Owens, Professor of Poultry Science on the College of Arkansas

Specialists say grocery shops additionally depend on understanding buyer behaviour and wishes, comparable to wanting to save lots of time.

“When individuals are beneath time stress, they take a whole lot of psychological shortcuts. And so they typically don’t do worth comparisons,” mentioned Andreas Boecker, a meals economist on the College of Guelph.

Andreas Boecker is a professor and chair of the division of meals, agricultural and useful resource economics on the College of Guelph. (Submitted)

“In order that leaves the chance for the retailer. They’ll even design the shop in a manner that after you choose the rotisserie rooster, you see different objects within the retailer and issues which might be complementary to it.”

Probably which means clients get a deal on a rotisserie rooster, however find yourself shopping for aspect dishes which are not as good of a deal.

Consider grabbing the tray of mashed potatoes priced at double the price of making it at residence — however a buyer grabs them. together with a budget rooster, to save lots of time.

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“That is the opposite facet. Do you like to prepare dinner and do you wish to do it?” requested poultry professor Casey Owens, who mentioned she will be able to’t keep in mind the final time she roasted a rooster.

Chickens are priceless to consultants like poultry professor Casey Owens; $7.99 to everybody else purchasing at this Calgary Costco warehouse. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

“I am a mother of two children, 11 and 13. I haven’t got time to go residence and rotisserie a rooster. Between baseball and soccer schedules. I haven’t got the time, but it surely’s very straightforward for me to go to my native grocery retailer, choose one up, spend $5 or $6 (USD) and have meal.”

And that is what, in line with Owens, makes the rotisserie rooster — type of priceless.


Click here to take heed to this phase or download the Price of Dwelling podcast.

The Price of Dwelling airs each week on CBC Radio One, Sundays at 12:00 p.m. (12:30 NT).

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