Costco Rotisserie Chicken
Tim Y./Yelp

Here's Why Costco's Rotisserie Chicken Isn't Always $4.99

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Despite inflation’s persistence, Costco’s famed rotisserie chicken has remained at its low price of $4.99. And it turns out that the wholesaler occasionally sells the birds for even cheaper, according to a recent Reddit thread.

When a Costco shopper posted a photo of their receipt showing two differently priced rotisserie chickens, employees and superfans responded with a simple explanation. If the chicken is under three pounds, it’s considered underweight and is sold at a lower price — say, $4.83 instead of $4.99.

An 11-year “veteran” employee offered further insight, adding that deli employees place the underweight chickens in different containers with different labels. And when you reach checkout, the cashier simply scans each chicken individually. That said, the broilers have a $4.99 price ceiling, so you could get lucky if you pick a bird that weighs over three pounds.

Apart from selling the chickens at a loss — a tactic to attract customers —  Costco also controls the bird’s supply chain from the hatchery to the slaughterhouse. The $450-million vertically integrated production plant in Nebraska saves the company 35 cents per chicken, according to CNN.

While the low-priced birds are a fan favorite and Costco staple, they aren’t without controversy.

Two shareholders sued Costco for allegedly breeding the chickens so large that they die of starvation, injuries, and illnesses. Similarly, the Nebraska processing plant has come under fire for poultry contracts that some farmers say are unfair, though Costco has pushed back against those claims.

Gallery: 24 Costco Foods With Cult Followings

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