Analyzing Protein Economics: Unveiling the Cost and Nutritional Dynamics of Key Protein Sources for Lower-Income Consumers.
For our lowest-income consumers, protein is the most essential, and invariably the most expensive, part of the food basket. This graph shows a comparison in value between the most important protein sources for lower-income consumers.
Not all protein is created equal, so these statistics can only ever serve as a guide. Quantities were adjusted in order to match the average food values.
IQF (Frozen chicken), Gizzards and Chicken Feet:
While the quantities compared are the same, IQF also contains bones which means that the food value of IQF is lower than gizzards and chicken feet. This means that IQF provides less pure protein than the other two items. Gizzards and chicken feet are consumed in their entirety. The collagen in chicken feet is also not a complete protein. IQF is popular because it is the most versatile meat and is easier to prepare.
As can be seen from this chart, IQF, Chicken Feet and Gizzards are priced interchangeably for the duration of the study. These three items were consistently the most expensive protein out of the basic food basket.
During 2019 tinned fish consistently matched eggs as the most affordable protein. From 2020, however, it became interchangeable with polony and peanut butter.
While extremely nutritious and the bedrock of school feeding schemes, peanut butter is not a complete protein and needs to be combined with other foods, especially bread and apricot jam. In June 2020 the price of peanut butter showed the effects of the COVID lock-down and briefly became very expensive. However, it remained fairly static in comparative pricing till December 2023 when it became the most affordable protein available.
The processed meat industry was hit hard in 2017 and 2018 with a listeriosis outbreak. As a result of shutdowns and manufacturing interruptions, the price of polony was high in 2019. However from May 2020 the price came down precipicitously and polony has consistently been the cheapest form of protein ever since. However, it is also highly processed and high in salt, so it is not ideal as a main source of protein.
The price of eggs remained stable until Aug 2023, when it rose sharply to become almost as expensive as chicken.