'Nightly News': Increase in Spam Sales Indicates a Bad Economy

You've got to give the media credit for continuing to find new and innovative ways to make the U.S. economy look bad.

This time an increase in Spam sales are being touted as a sign that people are suffering as they are being forced to trade in their fancy meats and poultries for something less expensive - a sign of "our times," according to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.

"And in what may be a huge economic indicator, this may say more about our times than we realize," Williams said on the May 29 broadcast. "Spam, the canned luncheon meat product, not the junk e-mail but, Spam sales have surged, lifting profits for the maker Hormel by 14 percent in just the first quarter of this year."

Spam sales were 10.6 percent higher in the second quarter of 2008 than the same period in 2007, according to an Associated Press article dated May 28. Its manufacturer, Hormel Foods (NYSE: HRL), has seen profits increase 14 percent. One factor contributing to the profit rise is the price of Spam, which has increased 17 cents, or nearly 7 percent, to $2.62 for a 12-ounce can. A rise in the price along with no decrease in demand has a positive impact on profits.

Williams didn't note that many fresh meats are still cheaper than Spam, which sells for about 22 cents per ounce. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ground beef (15 cents), boneless hams (20 cents), most chicken (10 cents) and whole frozen turkeys (7 cents) retail for less per ounce than Spam.

"At $2.62 a can on average, Spam starts looking a little better to a lot of families who are strapped right now by the rising cost of food," Williams added.