Gluten for punishment

I saw this comment at Megan McArdle’s place, and I don’t blame the commenter for being puzzled:

Why, can anyone tell me, does sliced seitan cost more per pound than filet mignon?

I’m not complaining that it “should” be cheaper, I actually would like to know why a product made, essentially, from livestock feed can cost more than a product made from the livestock. Is it really expensive to process? Do seitan consumers have very inelastic demand (because they’re vegetarians and need protein at any cost)? Is the population of seitan-eaters so small that some economies of scale don’t apply?

I’m thinking more likely the last — even within its niche it’s a niche product — but I’m open to other ideas.

Filet mignon, incidentally, was $16.99 a pound at Homeland this past weekend, which is a little less than I might have expected. (No, I didn’t buy any.)

1 comment

  1. Jeffro »

    7 July 2008 · 10:26 pm

    I gotta confess I’d never even heard of sietan before. Wheat gluten, yes.

    To answer her question – I’m sure it takes a lot more production time than the average steak.

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