If you’ve ever tried to change your diet in a bid to get healthier and get the slim waist you’ve wanted, you probably would have gotten a shock at the prices of some healthy foods. Pay a visit to your local supermarket and you will see that a bag of salty potato chips can be cheaper than a bag of unsalted almonds, which are healthier than the chips. The same goes if you were to check at a food court and compare a can of artificially sweetened soda with a cup of fresh-squeezed fruit juice — more often than not, the healthier option will also be the more expensive one.
You might wonder how this can be — after all, you’re constantly being told by the media and people around you that you need to eat better foods and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Does this we are doomed to fail in our attempts to eat healthier thanks to the high cost? Why is healthy food so expensive in the first place? That’s what we’re here to find out today.
Why Are Healthy Foods So Expensive?
There are two main reasons why healthier foods tend to cost more. These are:
- The cost of production
- Marketing trends
Below, we will take a step-by-step analysis of each reason, and try to understand just how healthy foods came to be so highly priced in today’s world.
The Cost Of Production
In the production line, there is a term commonly used called the ‘economy of scale’ — in simple terms, it refers to how something can become cheaper to produce when higher quantities of the very same item are produced. Consider this example — if you wanted to print five million copies of a book, the production costs could reduce the overall cost of each book to be one dollar. However, if you only wanted to produce 10 copies of the book, the overall production costs are likely to be as high as a few hundred dollars per book.
This is more or less the same within the food industry. Processed junk food and fatty fast food are produced in large quantities due to the high demand from consumers, and this is why they are usually cheap when being sold to us. On the other hand, healthy foods like organic and whole (unprocessed) foods are less popular so there is less demand for it, which is why it costs more to produce, and hence they are sold to us at a higher price. This may seem paradoxical as the whole reason why healthy foods are not as popular is that the higher cost puts most people off, especially when they’re trying hard to save money for other more important activities in their lives. In short, unhealthy foods are able to achieve a better scale of economy than healthy foods due to the higher demand and larger amount that is produced.
Another reason why production costs can be higher for healthy foods is due to the way they are grown and cultivated. Organic foods, in particular, are expensive because many conditions need to be met for them to be considered organic. For example, they cannot be grown with the aid of various chemicals, nor can pesticides be used to prevent insects from damaging the crops. This means that a lot of effort and money goes into the cultivation of organic foods, which no doubt raises the price that consumers need to pay.
At the start of this article, chances are you already had the impression that healthy food is more expensive in general, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The thing is, most people do assume healthy food is more expensive, and we’re not surprised when organic food costs twice as much as regular produce. Organic pasta costs twice as much as regular pasta? “Oh that’s no big deal, it’s expected”. Salad shops charging the same as you would pay for in a restaurant? “It’s healthy food so it will cost more, nothing new.”
Companies and major corporations are aware that the general public has this mindset, and they see it as an opportunity to make a hefty profit. If people think that it is normal to pay higher prices for healthy food and won’t question them, they will gladly make use of the opportunity to charge higher prices and earn more revenue. Even if they were able to find ways to produce healthy foods at a cheaper cost, it is unlikely that they would reduce consumer prices — it just means they are able to get a bigger profit.
The Bottom Line
So to sum everything up — yes, it is a fact that healthy food is more expensive. That will likely not change anytime soon unless the majority of the population suddenly decides to give up on junk food and switch the organic and whole foods. Does that mean you have no choice but to shell out more of your hard-earned money if you want to eat healthily? Not necessarily. You can still purchase vegetables and fruits at relatively cheap prices at supermarkets to prepare your own meals. Even certain processed foods, like canned tuna, are packed full of beneficial nutrients and are not expensive at all. Do your research online and read up, and you will still be able to maintain a healthy diet without burning a hole in your wallet.