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The Cost of Shipping Is Accounted for In the Retail Price

I do despair that so few people – including people allegedly trained in economics – understand even the first thing about the economic way of thinking.

Mr. S__:

After reading my recent celebration of the easy availability of fresh blueberries in mid-winter, you allege that I “just got half the story.” You accuse me of ignoring “the obscene cost of shipping blueberries over thousands of miles just so Americans may have a marginally better breakfast.”

With respect, I did not ignore that cost. I accounted for it when I mentioned the price that I paid at the supermarket for the blueberries ($6.49 for 18 ounces). Because at that price the supply in mid-winter of blueberries in Fairfax, Virginia, (where I live) is quite reliable, that price clearly covers not only the cost of growing, packaging, and displaying the blueberries, it covers also the cost of shipping them from a farm in Chile to a supermarket in Fairfax. If at that price the cost of shipping the blueberries were not fully covered, no Chilean-grown blueberries would be regularly sold in Fairfax at that price.

The fact that in mid-winter there is a steady supply in Fairfax of fresh blueberries from Chile implies that the cost of shipping blueberries from Chile to the northeastern United States is emphatically not obscene, for it’s a cost that ordinary American supermarket patrons easily and willingly cover.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030