Five Dollars For A Box of Cookies: Is It Worth It?
Justin Rankin, Business Editor
February is coming to an end, March is on deck, bringing along with-it March Madness, Spring Break, and hopefully warmer weather. Oh, and who can forget: Girl Scout cookies. Every year, the Girl Scouts of America holds their annual cookie fundraiser, dating back to the very first being held in 1917. Today, the annual sales bring in over 800 million dollars through offering a variety of cookies for their customers. Many people will argue about which cookie is their favorite, from Thin Mints to Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties). Disagreement may occur on which flavor is the best, although I think almost everybody can agree that the price of the cookies has increased over the last couple of years. For the New England area, before 2017 a box of cookies cost $4 per box. In 2017, the price went up to $5 a box, with some cookies costing $6 dollars. Some may ask: why are the cookies so expensive, and where does the money go for each box sold? Others may say $5 is a steal for the greatest snack of all time, as the money goes to a good cause. In the end, where does this money go and is it too much (especially for us broke college students just wanting to eat our way through midterms)?
To understand where the high price of $5 per box may be coming from, let’s first look into the price breakdown of a box of cookies. The revenue gained from each box goes toward the price to make the cookies, the various programs supported by the Girl Scouts and the different troops themselves. When a box of cookies is brought 24% ($1.20) goes towards the cost to produce, package and ship the cookies. Next, 50% ($2.50) goes to council-sponsored events, training and scholarships. 23% ($1.15) goes back directly to the troop selling the cookies. The last 3% ($0.15) goes to the Girl Scout’s Cookie Supply program. In total, a $3.80 profit with a yearly total net revenue of $608 million dollars. To add some comparison, I researched the leading supermarket cookie brand, Oreo. To make a package of Oreos and deliver it to the shelf
it costs roughly $0.50. The cookies will be sold at prices around $2.50 to $3.00. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the price Oreos sell their products to distributors, so for these comparisons I will stick to just the numbers I have found. Girl Scout cookies take in $3.80 of profit per box, making a 76% profit margin on their product. Oreo on the other hand takes in about $2.00 revenue, creating an 80% profit margin, although this number will be lower as this is retail price.
In the end, the profit margins made for each company are relatively similar. Although, it is nice to think that the money you paid to the Girl Scouts goes to your local troop instead of a multibillion-dollar company. When conducting this research, I thought to myself that for $2.50 for a package of Oreos, you receive a lot more cookies for your money, as opposed to $5 for a relatively small package of Girl Scout cookies. To compare, I looked into the price per individual cookie. In a standard package of original Oreos, there are 39 cookies, which comes to a cost of about 6 cents per cookie. How does this stack up to the Girl Scouts? Thin Mints contain 32 cookies which come to a cost 15 cents per cookie, Tagalongs come to 33 cents a cookie and
Samoas are 35 cents per cookie.
What do all these numbers and prices mean? Well, that is up to you. Some may say Girl Scout cookies are expensive for the amount you get, or they are so good that they do not care how much they cost. Others can say the money may go to a good cause, but should a nonprofit organization be bringing in $608 million dollars of net revenue from a cookie sale? For me, I get upset with myself when I see a table of cookies outside a grocery store, as I cannot help myself from buying three boxes, saying to myself, “five dollars is too expensive but they are so good and it goes to a good cause,” trying to rationalize my purchase. Whether you think they cost way too much for a box or they could never be too expensive, all I know from a business perspective
is the Girl Scouts of America has created one of the best fundraising plans of all time and will continue to raise millions of dollars every year. In the end, what do you think?
And yes, if you were wondering, I did eat a substantial amount of Girl Scout cookies while writing this article. Don’t blame me though… I had to do my research.