Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner

ScalesConsumer Alert:

Bureau of Weights and Measures

Beware of High Prices in Door-to-Door and Internet Meat Sales

Be sure you get value every time you buy food for your family. Pay particular attention when buying meat products. Meats provide a prime source of protein and are usually among the most expensive items on the weekly shopping list.

Be a Wise Shopper, Compare the Price per Pound

To compare products equally, start by comparing price per pound. For example, consider ground beef patties. One internet site advertises sixteen-4 oz patties (4 lb of beef) for $25. A local door-to-door delivery company advertises twenty-four-4 oz burgers (6 lb of beef) for $32. While the local supermarket advertises ground beef patties at $3.29 per pound in the meat case and $3.99 at the custom butcher shop. Which is the better value? On price alone, the local supermarket is a clear winner. The internet site's price per pound is $6.25 and the delivery company's price is $4.66. With choices at $3.99/lb and $3.29/lb, the local supermarket looks hard to beat.

Price is not the only factor. You may want to consider the convenience of delivery to your door. In addition, the quality of the meat may vary. It well may be worth 66 cents per pound to you to have the meat delivered. It may also be worth the difference in price if you feel the quality of the meat is superior to the supermarket. Just be ready to spend twice as much (or more).

The price differences are significant on other meat products as well. Take filet mignon, one of the best cuts of beef. Internet prices are around $26/lb, home delivery prices are around $18/lb and the supermarket is around $12/lb. NY Strip steak prices are around $18/lb, $10.50/lb and $8/lb respectively. We find that this trend continues for pork and fowl as well.

Don't Get Fooled by Sales Gimmicks

Be particularly alert for sales claims based on price per "serving" or where no weight is given. The price per serving gimmick generally hides a high price per pound. For example, a company may offer 10 servings of NY strip steak for $59. The consumer initially thinks the $5.90 per steak is a good deal. The salesman doesn't tell you that the portion is only 6 ounces. Quick calculations reveal that those 10 steaks only weigh 60 oz (3.75 lb) and will cost $15.73/lb (almost twice the supermarket price). Often, the serving size is smaller than you normally eat and you end up eating more than one serving at a meal.

In sales of meat, the vendor is required to provide the buyer with the net weight under New York regulations. The net weight is exclusive of any wrappers. New York also regulates freezer plans that provide large order sales, delivered directly to your freezer. If the seller won't give you the net weight or you don't get satisfaction from your freezer plan provider, call your State or local weights and measures office.

Smart shoppers compare the price per pound. Just take out a calculator and divide the price by the weight in pounds. If they give you the weight in ounces, just divide that by 16 to get the weight in pounds. Take the time and get the best value for your money.

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Bureau of Weights and Measures
10B Airline Drive
Albany, New York 12235-0001
(518) 457-3146

Revised 3/28/05