Category Archives: business

The Biggest Grocery Store Chains in the U.S.

As part of our usual day-to-day analysis, we sometimes come across fascinating information that deserves attention all to itself. That's the case with today's data visualization featuring the 20 biggest grocery store chains in the United States by number of store locations.

Largest Grocery Store Chains in the U.S. by Number of Store Locations (as of 6 July 2021)

For the visualization, we've omitted several convenience store operators who operate large numbers of stores that are better known as places to refuel motor vehicles than they are as places to buy food and pantry items. We have however included drug store operators because they make a point to regularly advertise these kinds of grocery items in their weekly ads.

By far, the most numerous chains are represented by Dollar General with 17,266 locations and Dollar Tree with 15,685 outlets, which are followed by drug stores CVS with 9,960 outlets and Walgreens with 9,021 stores. Walmart ranks fifth by number of outlets, with 5,342, but ranks first in food sales.

But the largest supermarket operator (which omits Walmart under that classification) is the Kroger family of stores, with 2,742 locations across the U.S.

In the chart, we've highlighted the grocery store chains where you can regularly buy an iconic No. 1 "picnic" (or 10.75 oz) can of Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup in red. That omits warehouse wholesaler Costco, which often carries Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup (but not Tomato!). It also omits German-owned discount grocers Aldi and Trader Joes, as well as U.S.-based organic grocers like Amazon's Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market, none of which carry Campbell's Soups (though you can buy it through Amazon's web site).

The biggest surprise for us was to find that Dollar General and Dollar Tree did not sell Campbell's condensed tomato soup in its most iconic packaging either. While these value-oriented grocery stores do in fact sell Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup, they do so in larger volume cans. As a final personal finance tip, if you're looking for the most tomato soup for your money, you'll get the best value in buying the 15.2 and 14.3 oz cans of Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup that these discount grocers carry in place of the 10.75 oz can.

Update 29 January 2022: We're happy to report that discount grocer Aldi is indeed a purveyor of Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup's 10.75 oz. cans! We've updated the chart above to indicate that status (here is the original version of the chart that showed Aldi's bar as blue rather than red).

Reference

Supermarket News. Top 50 food and grocery retailers by sales. [Online Article]. 6 July 2021.

Growth of Average Farm-Raised Turkeys Starts to Stagnate

In 2020, the average live weight of a turkey raised on a U.S. farm was nearly unchanged from 2019's final recorded average of 32.7 pounds per bird. That stagnation ended what had been a 40 year long trend of growth in the average size of turkeys produced on U.S. farms.

Average Live Weight of Turkeys Raised on U.S. Farms, 1929-2020 with Estimate for 2021

In the chart above, we've shown that new trend of stagnation continuing based on early signs that production factors such as the rising costs of feed, fuel, and labor for producing turkeys in the U.S. will affect the growth of the average turkey much the same as it did during the inflationary 1970s. Should the finalized data for 2021 confirm that's the case when it is released next year, it will indicate U.S. turkey producers are dealing with today's inflation similarly to how they did during that period of relative stagnation for the U.S. economy.

References

U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. Livestock Historic Data. [Online Database: Survey - Animals & Products - Poultry - Turkeys - Production - Turkeys Production Measured in Head - Total - National - US Total - 1929-2021 - Annual - Year]. Accessed 14 November 2021.

U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. Livestock Historic Data. [Online Database: Survey - Animals & Products - Poultry - Turkeys - Production - Turkeys Production Measured in LB - Total - National - US Total - 1929-2021 - Annual - Year]. Accessed 14 November 2021.

Number of Turkeys Produced in U.S. Continues to Fall

An estimated 214 million turkeys were raised on U.S. farms in 2021, down 4.5% from 2020's 224 million. That decline continues an ongoing downward trend that has now lasted for 25 years.

Number of Turkeys Raised on U.S. Farms, 1929-2020 with Estimate for 2021

2021 saw the fewest number of turkeys produced on U.S. farms since 1986. Turkey production had soared during the late 1980s and early 1990s thanks to that era's low-fat diet craze, which saw a sharp increase in demand for lean turkey meat.

On a side note, we now have turkey production data going back to 1929!

References

U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. Livestock Historic Data. [Online Database: Survey - Animals & Products - Poultry - Turkeys - Production - Turkeys Production Measured in Head - Total - National - US Total - 1929-2021 - Annual - Year]. Accessed 14 November 2021.

Markups for Gold Jewelry

Amazon: Nuragold 14K Yellow Gold 3.5mm Solid Cuban Link Chain Pendant Necklace

When you buy gold jewelry, how much are you paying for the gold in it and how much are you paying for everything else it takes to make and bring it to where you can buy it?

For the sake of simplicity, we're going to call that everything else for the jewelry you're buying the "markup". That makes sense in the event that you ever try to sell the jewelry, where you'll quickly find that the amount of gold in it is what gives it most of the value you can recover from it.

We selected the Nuragold 14k Yellow Gold 3.5mm Solid Miami Cuban Link Chain Pendant Necklace that can be purchased at Amazon to use for our example since it is made from solid 14-karat gold. That means it has much more gold in it than jewelry that has been gold-plated, making its gold content representing a significant portion of its price.

Meanwhile, because pure, or 24-karat gold is a notoriously soft metal, solid gold is often alloyed with alloyed with other, less costly metals such as copper, silver, zinc, and/or nickel to make it stronger. In the case of 14K gold, 58.3% of the content is pure gold.

Meanwhile, if you want to know how much gold is worth today, here is its latest spot price from Kitco, along with a few other precious metals, where the price is given in U.S. dollars per ounce!

Today's gold price

From here, we just need to know the weight of the metal in the jewelry to estimate how much of its value is due to its gold content. For the 20-inch long version of our example necklace, that's 16.6 grams, which on the day we sampled the data, costs $1,003.99. We built the tool below to handle the various weight unit conversions and to calculate the value of gold in it and the resulting markup. If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool.

Gold Jewelry and Price Data
Input Data Values
Price of Gold Jewelry
Metal Weight
Karats
Gold Spot Price

Gold Content Value and Markup
Calculated Results Values Percentages
Gold Content Value
Jewelry Markup Value

For this default example, we find out the jewelry's gold content represents 55.4% of its purchase price, or $556.34. The markup makes up the remaining 44.6%, or $447.64.

If you find yourself in the situation where you're a seller of an article of gold jewelry, you may find the best price you can obtain from a precious metals dealer will be less than the value of the gold content. That's because they have their own markups, which in addition to the transaction costs of doing business, may also include the expense of melting down the jewelry to extract the gold content from it. But that's the subject for a different tool on another day!

The Ship of Theseus and Campbell’s Tomato Soup

When we talk about Campbell's Tomato Soup, we often refer to it as a product that hasn't much changed since it was first introduced to American consumers in 1897. But like the metaphorical Ship of Theseus, just about every aspect of the iconic product has been changed over the decades the product has existed. The recipe. The tomatoes. The can. The can's lining.

And also its iconic label, which has just been in the news because its basic design is being changed for the first time in 50 years. Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB) posted the video announcement of the change on Twitter:

The company described the changes to its label in a press release:

Maintaining the famed red and white color blocking loved by generations, the redesigned Campbell’s label features several new elements to contemporize the brand while respecting its heritage — including a modernized logo scripture, which was based on founder Joseph Campbell’s original signature. Campbell’s fans will be able to spot more hidden elements, including the Campbell’s ‘C’ in the fleur de lis and slanted ‘O’ in soup that pays tribute to the letters from the first red and white label in 1898.

“We’ve been on a journey to reimagine this iconic brand and appeal to new generations of consumers who are cooking at home more than ever, while still honoring our rich history,” says Linda Lee, Chief Marketing Officer, Meals & Beverages, Campbell Soup Company.

What Lee doesn't mention is the 2021 changes in the label will help Campbell Soup save money on printing labels, reducing the complexity of the printing process it has been using during the past five decades. It's a seemingly small change that when multiplied by millions of cans produced per year, will produce significant savings, partially offsetting the inflation in other production and transportation costs Campbell Soup is coping with in 2021.

But only partially, since those other rising costs are larger. What the change means is that the price for consumers will rise more slowly than it otherwise would have had Campbell's not adapted the design of its labels.

Speaking of producing millions of cans of soup per year, we'll close with a 2019 video of Campbell Soup's labelling and palletizing line #3 at its Toronto facility in action.

Producing soup has changed too. At the time the video was posted, Campbell Soup was seeking to sell the featured production equipment.