Gorging Ourselves on Food Profits

So we own some chickens with good friends of ours and we are having a disagreement over how much a dozen, farm fresh, organic eggs should be priced at. A large grocery chain in the area charges over $4 per dozen, so our friends felt we should charge more, because you’re buying direct from the farmers (us).

I generally feel passionate about most things and as one friend likes to put it, my synapses go in to overdrive on an overabundance of topics. This being a topic: I am in utter disagreement over the egg matter, based on the idea that big businesses and farmer’s market vendors alike are constantly jacking up the price of food. And what’s more, if you don’t spend extra money on chemicals and slap a nice name like ‘organic’ on your food, then you’re justified in raising the price of your product by upwards of 50-100% more than non-organic.

Now, I am a business person and I understand re-cooping (if you will) investment dollars and turning a good profit, but I also like to rest comfortably at night knowing I didn’t take a crap on someone’s hard earned dollar. I want to break-even and provide excellent product or service to someone at a reasonable price so they’ll keep coming back and pass on the news to their friends. Maybe I’m old school. Maybe I was raised in the wrong decade, but I’m so disturbed by this culture of gouging and greed.

Do I sound like a communist daisy picker, because distributing wealth that all might buy farm fresh eggs is not my point? My point is that I don’t want to associate my business practices with excessive profit margins. When 200% would seems an amazing gift, I don’t know if I find it pertinent to then profit 400%. Isn’t that how a lot of businesses have flourished? Start lower, people love it, then you can raise the price over time, because you have a loyal customer base?

With all that said, I’m not going to risk a friendship over such a thing, but I may need to negotiate our household selling price versus their own. Maybe we could create some local market competition and sell more eggs at the lower price! Now there is an idea.

I have a lot of thoughts on big business food. Maybe I should write more about it.

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3 Responses to Gorging Ourselves on Food Profits

  1. Leslie says:

    Seems to me that buying direct should cost less, as there is no “middleman” to soak up some of the profits. Plus, you don’t have the overhead that a large market has to account for. If a customer has to go to the store for other items, they will need an incentive to make an additional stop to pick up eggs… or why not just get them at the store?

    My new chickens, at the ripe age of 5 months, have suddenly started laying an abundance of miniature eggs. What should I charge for a dozen pullet eggs?

  2. Karin says:

    Or you could do what they do in Costa Rica, and many other countries… in addition to selling eggs you can trade with other families who have grown produce, or meat, or cheese, so you all benefit. Definitely “food for thought.” Hahaha (sorry… couldn’t resist.)

  3. jah714 says:

    Here are some thoughts from a Canadian friend:
    About 5 years ago our family (and our 6 kids) got about 20 laying hens and 30 chicks that we raised. I told the kids that they would be responsible for the work of the chickens and they could keep all of the money from the egg business.

    As a business owner I wanted to teach them about business skills so we calculated the cost of buying the materials for the chicken coop and the fencing, etc. Over the course of the next year the kids soon realized that it would probably take them 2 to 3 years to break even on selling eggs so I offered to pay the cost of the coop and have them pay $10 to $15 to rent the coop from me (it would take about 8 years to pay it off at this rate).

    In the end we did start selling eggs for $3.50 per dozen but raised the price after a year to $4 per dozen (a local corner store also paid my daughter $3.25/dozen for ones we did not sell). The going rate right now in our area is $4 to $5 per dozen at the various farms.

    Over time we discovered that while chickens will lay an egg a day during certain times of the year, there were periods of a few months where we received half or less than that during molting season, during their first 6 months of raising them and after about 1.5 to 2 years when they slowly stop laying. During this time we kept purchasing feed and other products which have substantially increased in price. In the end, our kids learned the hard lesson that after purchasing feed, supplies and watching over 40 chickens slowly disappear due to eagles and racoons, they probably made about 10 cents per hour. At the beginning of this year we only had one of our latest 30 chickens left due to predators that liked our free range birds.

    In the end the kids and our family raised the chickens because it was more of a labour of love as opposed to a great business opportunity. Perhaps we took on too much and the costs and time were too high but eggs really are not a big money maker.

    So my take on it is, if those buying from you are willing to pay $4 per dozen, sell it for that. If you find families or individuals struggling and you are making too much for your comfort, take a portion of your eggs and bring them to those in need or the food bank. In the end you will be supporting the hard working farmers by not driving down prices. Farmers work hard and don’t always earn the greatest returns. They have to balance years of plenty with years of hard times… anyways just a thought. It may also balance out the friend’s interests with your own.

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