One of the best snacks to have late at night or while watching a movie is popcorn.
Its salty, buttery, flavor can provide a comforting experience.
While nothing quite matches movie theater popcorn, there are a few packages that come quite close.
Buying popcorn, however, isn’t always cheap.
Considering popcorn is just corn coated in oil, you may wonder why it’s so expensive.
Why Is Popcorn So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of popcorn is around $10.
However, you can also find popcorn worth $30 or more.
Certain factors like whether you’re buying popcorn from the movie theater, problems affecting corn, and the type of popcorn you’re buying can all influence the price.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Movie Theater Prices
One of the reasons popcorn is expensive is when you him buy it from the movie theater.
You might be able to find a box of popcorn at the grocery store for around $5, but when you go to the movie theater, the price immediately increases.
The price of popcorn depends on the size that you buy as well as if you’re adding anything special to it.
Larger buckets of popcorn tend to be more expensive since you’re receiving more of the product.
You may wonder why popcorn at the movie theater is as expensive as it is.
The biggest reason is that it’s one of the main ways that the theater generates money.
Concession sales and ticket sales are the two main ways that a theater generates profit.
If there aren’t any movies bringing people into the theater, some theaters might go a few months without making enough money to cover their costs.
To ensure the theater can stay open, they have to have high prices on their popcorn.
It nets them enough money to potentially last through the slower seasons.
Popcorn is expensive when you buy it from the movie theater.
2. Fertilizer Costs
Problems affecting corn also increase the price of popcorn.
Popcorn, after all, comes from corn.
One of the problems corn farmers are experiencing is higher fertilizer costs.
Fertilizer is a necessary ingredient that helps farmers grow their corn to high yields.
The fertilizer enriches the soil which then enriches the crops.
However, to make fertilizer, you need either ammonia or nitrogen.
In the case of ammonia, there have been shortages.
One of the primary suppliers of ammonia is China.
However, China has faced several problems with COVID-19.
It’s forced them to shut down their plants which has reduced how much ammonia they produce.
Furthermore, China is also pushing companies to take on greener practices.
Those who fail to comply are unable to conduct business and are shut down.
A few plants have had to shut down due to China’s pursuit of greener technology and carbon emission reductions.
Since there’s not as much supply of ammonia available, it means there isn’t as much fertilizer available.
This means that farmers have to pay even more money to fertilize their farms.
Since they’re taking on higher costs, they’re selling their corn at higher prices.
Popcorn makers are taking on more costs and selling their boxes of popcorn at higher prices.
Popcorn is expensive because of the price of fertilizer.
Another problem affecting corn is drought.
Corn is primarily grown in an area including the Great Plains area of the United States and extending to Ohio.
The problem with the Great Plains area, in particular, is that they’ve been experiencing a terrible drought.
It’s impacted the ability of farmers to harvest or even plant corn.
Drought makes it impossible to grow crops because plants need water just as much as humans do.
Without water, they fail to grow.
When they’re seeds, they can even fail to sprout without the presence of water.
As such, farmers experiencing a drought might lose a good portion of their crops if they’re unable to get enough water to them.
Some farmers might buy water and bring it to their fields, but since the amount of water they’d need is substantial, not all farmers can take on this financial burden. Most just hope that it rains soon.
Since it impacts the supply of corn available, and potentially next year’s harvest, too, it means the price of corn increases.
Since corn is more expensive, popcorn makers face higher costs.
To offset those costs, they have to have higher prices on their popcorn.
Popcorn is expensive because of a drought reducing the supply of corn.
While most people think of corn in terms of eating it, it also serves another great purpose.
Corn can become ethanol which is a type of fuel.
Ethanol is often mixed with gasoline to reduce how much oil is in it.
Some see it as a cleaner way to fuel cars.
Ethanol is also a commercial product.
You can find it used as an ingredient in making rubbing alcohol, some cosmetics, drugs, plastics, and even to make certain antidotes.
Because it’s useful in manufacturing, there are some cornfields that farmers plant specifically for it to become ethanol.
Since ethanol is quite valuable, corn planted to become ethanol is also valuable.
As such, some farmers looking to increase their wealth might start planting their corn for ethanol manufacturing instead of for livestock or human consumption.
This reduces the supply available for popcorn makers.
Since there’s less corn for them to use, they need to pay higher prices for the available supply.
As before, since they’re taking on higher costs, they’re going to sell at higher prices.
Popcorn is expensive because ethanol further reduces the supply of corn available for human consumption.
5. Global Corn Shortage
There’s also a problem with the global supply of corn.
While drought has impacted the corn supply in the United States, there are other factors impacting the supply in other countries.
War in Europe has made planting and harvesting difficult, if not impossible.
Drought has also impacted corn exporters in the European Union.
They’re facing shortages as well.
Brazil, particularly Argentina, has had a few weather problems of its own.
This creates a perfect storm since it means the countries are unable to rely on one another to bulk up their lack of corn supply.
If everyone is struggling to grow and harvest corn, that leaves little corn to trade.
It also means that people are going to face higher prices to buy corn.
In the case of popcorn makers, they’re facing high prices on a global scale for the corn they need to make their popcorn.
As such, they’re selling their products at high prices.
Popcorn is expensive because of the reduced global supply of corn.
6. High Demand For Corn
The lack of supply of corn wouldn’t be quite so bad if there wasn’t such high demand.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of demand for corn.
Some corn goes to refineries to make ethanol which then goes on to make other products.
Some corn goes to farmers to become feed for their livestock.
Other corn ears go to grocery stores where consumers can buy the corn and eat it directly.
Finally, some corn goes to popcorn makers who turn it into popcorn.
There are a lot of different industries that all want corn.
They all want it in bulk, too.
Farmers like to use corn since it’s a relatively cheap feed to give to their livestock.
People love to eat corn since it provides some nutrition.
Popcorn, itself, is a wonderful snack that goes well with watching movies or just relaxing at home.
Since demand is high, whenever supply problems arise, it means the price of corn is going to increase.
There’s too much demand for it for the price to remain the same.
Popcorn is expensive because there’s such a high demand for corn across different industries.
7. Gourmet Popcorn
When it comes to buying popcorn, you have quite a few choices.
You can buy standard buttered popcorn or you can buy gourmet popcorn.
Gourmet popcorn, as its name might suggest, is high-quality popcorn.
It typically features big puffs of corn that have unique seasonings.
Some of the most popular types of gourmet popcorn are cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn.
There are plenty more varieties available, but those two tend to reign as king.
Gourmet popcorn is expensive because a bit more work goes into its production.
Most companies focus on using high-quality kernels that turn into large puffs of popcorn.
They then coat the popcorn in cheese, caramel, or some other ingredient.
The popcorn then goes into some sort of ornate package.
In most cases, it’s a tin that bears some work of art or the company’s logo.
This type of popcorn is typically packed with flavor.
Some varieties even melt in your mouth.
Because it’s of higher quality, you can expect gourmet popcorn to be considerably more expensive than standard popcorn.
A tin of gourmet popcorn might set you back $30 or more.
The larger the tin, the more expensive the price.
The brand name also plays a factor.
If you buy your gourmet popcorn from a well-known brand, that’s likely going to increase its price, too.
Popcorn is expensive when it’s gourmet popcorn.
8. Popcorn Size
The size of popcorn you buy can also impact its price.
At the grocery store, you tend to have boxes or bags of popcorn.
The bigger the box or bag, the more expensive the popcorn.
Since you’re buying more of the product, it makes sense that larger boxes and bags would cost more.
As such, an easy way to save money on popcorn purchases is to go for smaller boxes or bags.
Popcorn is expensive when you buy a big box or big bag of popcorn.
9. Lasts A Long Time
One of the great aspects of popcorn is that it can last a long time.
Since popcorn is essentially just a kernel that then pops into popcorn, you can stock up on it for a while.
Most popcorn in a box comes in sealed packages as well.
This ensures that it remains fresh.
As a result, you don’t typically lose out on eating popcorn because it’s spoiled or has become moldy.
That allows you to buy a box of popcorn and hold it in your kitchen for a long time.
You’re not rushed to eat it all fast before it spoils.
As a result, you might not go through that much popcorn in a given time.
Since you’re not buying popcorn as often, it means that popcorn makers have to get as much money as they can off of the initial sale.
They can’t count on rapid, repeat, sales to earn a profit.
Popcorn is expensive because it can last a long time.
10. Variety Packs
There are also variety packs of popcorn available.
Variety packs tend to be more expensive than just a standard box of popcorn.
That’s because they usually include a few mixed-in types of popcorn.
It might have cheese or caramel popcorn mixed in with standard buttered popcorn.
This type of popcorn is expensive because it’s more valuable.
If you have a household where everyone likes a different type of popcorn, it might be more convenient for you to buy the variety pack.
One of the types of popcorn might also be more expensive to produce than the others.
It drives up the price of the pack as a whole since it’s more expensive to make.
Popcorn is expensive when it’s in a variety pack.
Popcorn is a tasty treat that pairs well with most relaxing pursuits.
However, because it’s corn, problems with the corn supply can affect its price.