Steak can be a delicious treat after a hard week of working.
It’s a filling meal that’s juicy and flavorful.
While steak is good on its own, there are ways to enhance the dish even further.
One of those ways is by using steak sauces.
However, steak sauce can sometimes be quite expensive.
Why Is Steak Sauce So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of steak sauce is around $6, but some brands can stretch up to $20.
Steak sauce is expensive because of ingredient costs, inflation increasing costs, and little competition among big brand names.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Grape Prices
One of the ingredients sometimes used in steak sauce is grapes.
More precisely, it’s raisins.
To get a raisin, you first need a grape.
However, grapes are facing problems.
In particular, Californian grape growers are having problems tracking down herbicides.
There are several different pests that farmers have to deal with to grow their crops.
Some of those pests are insects.
They’ll climb up the grape vines and either eat the vines or the grapes.
To avoid that, farmers have to spray their vineyards with pesticides.
They’ll kill the pests and protect the grapes.
Weeds and other herbal pests are other problems.
When weeds start taking over a field, they compete with those crops for resources.
They’ll steal nutrients from the soil and absorb water that the vineyard needs.
To avoid that, grape farmers spray their fields with herbicides to kill weeds and other herbal pests.
Since grape farmers cannot get their hands on herbicide, it means their vineyards are subject to weed competition.
As a result, they might not be yielding as many grapes as they would normally.
This means there’s a shortage of grapes which can lead to a shortage of raisins.
To make their steak sauce, companies will need to pay higher prices for their raisins, which results in higher prices on their sauces.
Steak sauce is expensive because of a lack of herbicide among grape growers.
2. Vinegar Prices
Another common ingredient used in steak sauce is vinegar.
The problem with vinegar is that it can also be costly to make.
Vinegar uses a few ingredients that have also faced shortages.
Along with the higher price of sourcing those ingredients, vinegar takes some time to make.
It requires a fermenting process that can take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
Depending on what quality the steak sauce company wants, they might have a high price on the vinegar that they use.
Because it costs more to source their vinegar, they have to offset that cost with higher prices on their steak sauces.
Some might even use it as a marketing ploy.
They might advertise that they have a certain quality of vinegar in their steak sauce.
That might make it expensive, too.
Steak sauce is expensive because some bottles use high-quality vinegar.
3. Orange Prices
Another part of most steak sauce recipes is some form of citrus. Usually, it’s oranges.
A1, for example, uses orange puree in its recipe.
However, oranges also have some high prices.
The biggest state to produce oranges in the United States is Florida.
The state has an ideal climate in which to grow oranges.
Unfortunately, Florida is also subject to hurricanes.
Recently, some high winds and heavy storms have battered orange orchards.
It’s destroyed quite a few farms.
That means that farmers were unable to meet demand with their supplies.
This orange shortage has caused the price of oranges to increase.
Orange trees also require time to grow.
Recovering from total destruction takes time.
It may be some time before orange farmers can start meeting demand again.
Since oranges are facing a shortage, companies that buy oranges are taking on higher costs.
That’s the case for steak sauce companies.
They need oranges to make their puree.
Since they’re facing higher costs, they’re going to sell at higher prices.
Steak sauce is expensive because of the orange shortage inflating orange prices.
4. Tomato Prices
Tomato also plays a factor in some steak sauce recipes.
Some might use it as a base instead of oranges or use it with oranges.
Tomatoes are usually cheap, but that isn’t always the case.
Recently, for example, tomatoes have been experiencing shortages.
A few factors have led to the tomato shortage.
For one, canned tomatoes are actually quite expensive in other countries.
Because of their expense, there was slowing demand for tomatoes in other countries.
Since tomatoes weren’t selling as well internationally, it caused some farmers to give up on tomatoes.
They started planting other crops that sell better.
As a result, the number of farmers growing tomatoes decreased.
Then drought in California struck.
Tomatoes require a decent amount of water.
They also require certain temperatures.
California is normally an ideal state in which to grow tomatoes, but the state has also experienced a lingering drought.
It’s made it almost impossible for farmers to grow tomatoes.
It’s caused even more farmers to give up on tomatoes and start growing something that doesn’t require as much water.
Since tomatoes are in short supply, it means their prices are high.
Steak sauce companies have to spend a decent amount of money to acquire the tomatoes that they need.
As a result, their costs are higher.
Steak sauce is expensive because of the high prices of tomatoes.
5. Pepper Prices
If you taste a note of spice in your steak sauce, it’s probably because it contains some sort of pepper.
It might be bell peppers, cayenne peppers, or even chili peppers.
In most cases, steak sauce companies use cayenne peppers, but pepper prices have also increased.
Much like tomatoes, drought has impacted the supply of peppers.
Whether it’s bell peppers, chili peppers, or cayenne peppers, farmers are struggling to grow them.
When crops don’t receive enough water, they fail to grow.
They need water just like humans do.
They’ll wither away otherwise.
It also makes it difficult, and potentially impossible, for farmers to plant new pepper seeds in dry soil.
Plant seeds usually need damp soil to sprout and grow, so drought can impact the next season’s harvest as well.
Without being able to source their peppers as they would normally, steak sauce companies have to pay higher prices.
To offset their costs, steak sauce companies have to sell their products at higher prices.
Steak sauce is expensive because of the high price of peppers.
6. Become More Niche
Back in the day, steak sauce used to be a common staple of eating steak.
When eating at a steakhouse, the restaurant was always happy to bring some sauce to your table.
Those days are over.
One of the reasons steak sauce was popular in the first place is that it helped elevate an otherwise unpleasant cut of steak.
It removed some of the rancid or unpleasant flavors from the meat.
These days, farmers have perfected the cultivation of beef cows.
They can produce high-quality meat in most cases.
The meat speaks for itself. You no longer need a sauce to make the flavor more exciting or delectable.
The meat and seasonings, themselves, take care of it all.
Chefs almost take it personally now if someone asks for steak sauce.
As a result, steak sauce has seen a slight decline in popularity.
It’s become more niche than a staple.
However, like all niche products, steak sauce has been able to charge higher prices because of this.
Once something becomes niche, it becomes a bit more focused on its target group.
Since it’s targeting itself to a specific audience,’ it can raise its prices.
This is because the company knows that the consumer will be willing to buy the product at a higher price if they are unable to easily access the product anywhere else.
It fits their needs exactly, so they’ll pay more for it.
Steak sauce is expensive because it’s become a niche product.
7. Artisanal Steak Sauces
While steak sauces aren’t quite as popular as they used to be, that hasn’t stopped some companies from making artisanal brands.
Artisanal steak sauces tend to be expensive, high-quality, sauces that offer an experience that other brands don’t.
They might use different flavors and rare ingredients or offer some other different experiences than standard sauces.
Others focus on quality.
These types of steak sauce tend to be on the expensive side because a lot more cost or work goes into their production.
They might use expert craftsmen or have completely handmade elements.
Because they’re more expensive to make, companies sell these sauces at higher prices.
Steak sauces are expensive when they’re artisanal.
Another key element that makes steak sauce expensive is inflation.
Inflation is a problem because it makes everything more expensive.
It starts with basic resources and materials and makes its way through the production process.
Even something like rental costs and energy costs tends to be higher due to inflation.
It essentially makes running and operating a business a more expensive venture.
Since steak sauce companies are seeing higher costs, they have to sell their products at higher prices to offset those costs.
Steak sauce is expensive because of inflation.
9. A1 Holds The Market
When you think of steak sauce, one of the first products you might think of is A1.
A1 is one of the biggest steak sauce brands in the industry.
While it likely wasn’t the first steak sauce, it was one of the steak sauces that made its use so big that it traveled across the ocean to reach the United States.
A1 has a pretty strong hold on the steak sauce market.
While there are other brands out there, A1 remains the de facto leader.
This is a problem because it means A1 essentially has a monopoly on steak sauce.
It can set whatever price it wants because there isn’t enough competition in the industry to make them lower its prices.
Only consumers can.
Steak sauce is expensive because A1 essentially has a monopoly on the industry.
10. Wine Prices
A final reason steak sauce is expensive is that some use wine.
They’ll use red wine or white wine to give their sauce just a bit more flavor.
Wine tends to pair quite well with red meat, so it only makes sense to use it in steak sauce, too.
The problem with using wine in steak sauce is that it makes the sauce very expensive.
Wine is an expensive product. It takes a long time to make.
Steak sauce companies have to spend a good amount of money to source wine.
Since it adds some level of sophistication and prestige to their sauces, they can also get away with having higher prices on their products.
Steak sauce is expensive when it uses wine in its recipe.