Whether you eat them on their own or add them to a dish, pickles are either beloved or hated.
You either love pickles or you hate them.
Few people sit in the middle.
If you’re a lover of pickles, you may have noticed that the price of pickles has increased.
You may wonder what it is about pickles that has made them so expensive.
Why Are Pickles So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of pickles is around $6.
However, you can also find jars of pickles that cost $15 and more.
Certain factors like whether they’re artisanal, the jar size, and climate factors impacting cucumber growth can all affect the price of pickles.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Artisanal Pickles
One of the reasons pickles are expensive is that they come from an artisanal brand.
Like other niche products, you can often find big brand names and artisanal brands.
There usually isn’t much that separates a big brand product from an artisanal one.
Some artisanal brands will do something a bit extra that makes their pickles stand out.
For example, they might use a specific type of brine or solution to pickle the cucumbers.
That solution might use more expensive ingredients, so they sell their pickles at higher prices.
Others might pickle their cucumbers for longer periods.
That might result in an explosion of flavor.
Because they provide a high-quality experience with their pickles, they also sell them at higher prices.
Other artisanal brands might just use a fancy jar or label to make their pickles look like they’re different or special.
When you see the word “artisanal,” you tend to think that the product is somehow better.
It suggests that a master crafter was behind its crafting.
That may be true and it might not be true.
The word sells the idea.
Pickles are expensive when you buy artisanal brands.
2. Pickles Made With Bourbon
Some pickles are expensive because the makers use expensive ingredients during the pickling process.
For example, a common specialty pickle is when made with bourbon.
The manufacturer will put the cucumber in a vat with a solution that contains some form of bourbon.
It might be an in-house bourbon or an imported one.
The goal is to make a pickle with great flavor that also has the flavor of bourbon in it.
For some people, eating pickles that taste like bourbon can make the experience more thrilling or satisfying.
It might make eating pickles seem fancier.
It’s also useful for showing off to friends.
They might buy regular pickles, but your pickles pack some bourbon in them, for example.
The problem with pickling cucumbers in bourbon is that it’s a bit more expensive.
Bourbon is an expensive drink.
Using a lot of it to pickle cucumbers adds more to the cost of manufacturing.
As such, those manufacturers need to sell their pickles at higher prices to cover their costs.
Bourbon pickles are also rarer than normal pickles.
Because there’s a lower supply of them available, they also have high prices.
Pickles are expensive when you buy specialty versions like bourbon pickles.
3. Pickling Formula
Even pickles that don’t use a specialty solution can be expensive to make.
Manufacturers have to make pickles on a massive scale.
That’s a lot of ingredients that they need to buy to make their formulas.
Some might even experiment from time to time to determine if they can find a better formula.
That costs money to do.
To ensure they have enough revenue to cover costs and still invest in research and development, they need to sell their pickles at higher prices.
Along with making the formula, they need to pay workers to check on the pickles.
If the pickles come out of the vat too early, then they might not have the right flavor or texture.
There’s also always a risk of mold or bacteria getting into the vats.
If mold or bacteria get into the vats, it can ruin the entire product.
That’s a waste of money that the maker can’t get back.
To cover potential problems with their formula and process, they sell pickles at higher prices.
Pickles are expensive because their formulas can sometimes be expensive to make and maintain.
4. Pickling Time
If you want to make a high-quality pickle, it’s going to take some time.
At home, you can sometimes make a pickle in a matter of a few days.
It also depends on if you have “the mother” leftover from previous pickling processes, too.
Having “the mother” can speed up the pickling process in the future.
That said, if you want the best pickle, then you need to let the cucumbers sit in the brine for a long time.
At the very least, pickles should sit for a week.
Some of the best pickles tend to sit for even longer.
While this results in a juicy and pleasant pickle, it means that the company is waiting around for its products.
As the business saying goes, time is money.
The longer it takes to make a product, the more costs end up going into it.
That’s because the company has to still pay its workers even if they’re just waiting around for the pickles to finish.
Since it takes a long time for their pickles to finish, the company has to sell them at high prices.
It covers the time in which the pickles were fermenting.
Pickles are expensive because they take a long time to make.
5. Niche Product
Pickles are also a niche product.
They’re part of the vegetable market, even part of the cucumber market, but they’re wholly different from standard cucumbers.
While some people can eat pickles straight from the jar, others treat them more like ingredients for larger dishes.
Pickles are often put on burgers, for example.
They’re not as commonly used in main dishes as other vegetables because of their unique flavor.
As such, the demand for pickles is a bit more specific.
Not everyone loves pickles either.
Because pickle manufacturers serve a very specific audience, they’re able to set higher prices.
Not every vegetable farm or company sells pickles.
It’s usually a specific type of company that has taken up the niche to make pickles.
To ensure their investment is worth it, they put a higher price on their products.
Niches tend to be more expensive than larger, general markets because they cater to a specific audience.
Even with pickles, you can find even smaller niches.
Bourbon pickles, for example, are a niche product within pickles.
Because they cater to a specific audience, bourbon lovers, they’re able to place higher prices on their products.
They have to make as much money as they can by selling a more selective product to a smaller audience.
Pickles are expensive because they’re niche.
6. Fertilizer Costs
Since pickles come from cucumbers, anything that impacts the price of cucumbers is also going to affect the price of pickles.
That’s because pickle companies have to eat those costs.
They’ll raise the price of their pickles to make back the costs they had to spend on the cucumbers.
One problem that affects the price of cucumbers is the cost of fertilizer.
Recently, there have been quite a few problems with acquiring fertilizer.
From ammonia factories shutting down to some plants even closing entirely.
Ammonia and nitrogen are two required resources to make fertilizer.
When there isn’t much on the market, then fertilizer becomes scarce.
However, fertilizer is always in high demand among farmers.
It helps their plants grow faster and healthier.
A healthy vegetable is going to be larger and yield more produce.
If farmers have to pay more for fertilizer, then they’re going to raise the price of their cucumbers, too.
It cost them more to grow their cucumbers, so they need to sell at a higher price to make up for the lost money.
Pickle companies then need to sell at higher prices since they paid more for the cucumbers.
As such, pickles are expensive because of how fertilizer costs affect the price of cucumbers.
7. Imported Cucumbers
Some pickle companies also import their cucumbers from other countries.
More than 60% of cucumbers that people consume in the United States come from Mexico.
Mexico happens to have a great climate in which to grow cucumbers.
The problem with importing cucumbers is that it’s more expensive.
There are always various fees and taxes that companies need to pay to get those cucumbers across the border.
Mexico also has its share of costs to cover.
Because cucumbers are a vegetable, they don’t always have a very long shelf life.
As such, they need to invest in storage containers that help prolong the life of cucumbers as much as possible.
That ends up making the shipping of cucumbers expensive, too.
With higher costs, Mexico sells its cucumbers at higher prices.
If there are any sort of climate problems occurring in Mexico, then that’s also going to impact the price of cucumbers.
Pickle companies then pay even higher prices to get their hands on cucumbers from which to make their pickles.
The result is higher prices on pickles.
Pickles are expensive when they’re imported from Mexico or even Canada.
8. Florida Hurricanes
When cucumbers aren’t coming from Mexico or Canada, then they’re grown in Florida and Georgia.
The problem with growing cucumbers in Florida is that they’re also prone to hurricane damage.
Every year, Florida usually faces some sort of hurricane or tropical storm.
Particularly bad hurricanes can completely ruin farmland.
They can also destroy warehouses and mills that hold vegetables.
When a cucumber farm faces destruction from a hurricane, it means fewer cucumbers are heading to grocery stores and pickle companies.
Since the supply is lower, the price of cucumbers increases.
The problem with hurricanes is that you can’t stop them.
Farmers just have to hope that the hurricane misses their farms.
Pickles are expensive when hurricanes destroy cucumber farms.
9. Cucumber Popularity
Cucumbers are also quite popular.
They’re used in salads, eaten on their own, or even made into fun side dishes.
However, their popularity also impacts the price of pickles.
Grocery stores want their fair share of cucumbers.
Restaurants do as well.
This means there’s a lot of competition for who buys cucumbers.
Pickle companies need to get their hands on cucumbers or else they can’t make their products.
As such, they sometimes have to pay top dollar to get enough cucumbers when there’s a smaller supply of cucumbers available.
To cover that cost, they make their pickles expensive.
Pickles are expensive because of how popular cucumbers are on their own.
A final reason pickles are expensive is the size of the jar.
You can find many jars of pickles that come in different sizes.
Some pickles are huge while others are small.
Some jars have lots of pickles in them while others only have a handful of pickles.
The more pickles in the jar or the larger they are, the more expensive the jar is going to be.
That’s because you’re paying for more of a product.
Even large pickles tend to be expensive because of their size.
Manufacturers have to pay more money for high-quality cucumbers that are large.
Since they’re paying more, you’re going to be paying more.
Pickles are expensive due to the size of the jar.
Pickles can be a fun treat or ingredient in your favorite dish.
However, certain factors that influence the price of cucumbers and the cost of producing pickles can make pickles quite expensive.