Eli5/ Why are canned foods so cheap



I got a huge thing of beautiful canned peaches so cheap

In: Economics

Mass production. Ability to use ‘less than perfect’ fruit. Inexpensive long term storage.

Fresh requires expensive climate controlled storage and shipment, people will only buy perfect looking fruit and a percentage will go bad in transit.

Frozen requires expensive refrigeration in manufacture, shipment and sale.

So canning is cheaper.

A lot of the cost of fresh produce is the care needed to transport them, refrigerated warehousing to store them, and the huge amount of produce that goes bad before sold (something like 30%). So make them more durable for transport and not dependent on climate control for transport or storage and give them a long shelf life so they don’t spoil… you can cut the costs.

Another reason (in addition to what others have said) is that sometimes it relates to timelines. For example, I know of a brand that requires vegetables to be processed within a certain amount of time of harvest to be sold fresh. If they don’t meet that timeline they’re frozen or canned. And there is a second time cutoff that if they are beyond that, they’ll be packaged as store brand instead of their own brand.


The price of fruit varies a lot throughout the year. Canning has always been about preserving food when it is plentiful for use when food is not. Canneries can buy fruit when it is cheapest and then sell it throughout the year when fresh is expensive. 70 years ago said fruit would be unavailable fresh unless bought in season.

It is also easy to transport. It is stable at any temperature, so no need for refrigeration. It doesn’t need to get anywhere quickly, because it is stable. It is easy to stack. Stores don’t need to worry about it going bad before selling it. All of this also contributes to a lower price.