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Customers Aren’t Happy Over Costco’s New Rotisserie Chicken Packaging — Inside the Backlash

The company’s switch to plastic bags aims to reduce waste, but loyal fans are raising concern over leaks

It’s safe to say that Costco’s rotisserie chicken puts all other store-bought chickens to shame. A cult favorite at the wholesale warehouse, the pre-cooked bird has long attracted customers for its unbeatable price of $4.99 and larger size compared to other offerings. And, of course, it tastes delicious. The pricing strategy, known as a “loss leader,” encourages members to purchase the chicken with other high-ticket items while visiting the store. So, when Costco announced changes to its beloved item, it was bound to provoke strong reactions. In May, the company revealed a new packaging plan: replacing the familiar hard-plastic clamshell containers with plastic bags.

As the new packaging rolls out to locations nationwide, customers are airing their grievances on social media. In particular, criticism focused on the potential for leaks and inconvenience of the new bags for at-home storage. Other complaints point  to flaws with the packaging and added labor for Costco employees (two people instead of one). 

One customer’s reaction raises awareness about Costco’s chicken packaging 

A TikTok user known as the “Costco Oracle” (famous for predicting other Costco changes like discontinuing their Polish hot dog and initiating a member-only food court) has been particularly vocal. 

In one video, he is shown with several boxed rotisserie chickens in his shopping cart, claiming viewers need to “stock up” because boxes are better than bags. Watch it below:

@johngoesrawr

Everyone is panic buying all the rotisserie chicken at @@Costco Wholesalebecause they are starting to change the hard container to a soft bag. Just go on to amazon and buy the containers. I totally get it. I hate the bags too but no need to buy more food than you need. Thats so wasteful. Original video from @@SavorDelights #fyp#costco#rotisseriechicken

♬ original sound – John

In another video, he brings his own traditional plastic container to transfer the chicken from the bag. Check it out below:

@oldjewishmen

BYOC. This is what it has come to. #BYOC #containers2024 #costco #rotisseriechicken

♬ Nasty – Tinashe

More customer concerns grow on social media about Costco’s rotisserie chicken packaging 

On social media platforms like Reddit and TikTok, many customers are expressing dissatisfaction. Concerns range from the practicality of the new bags to fears of soggy chickens. One TikTok user explains in more detail in the video below, highlighting how customers can no longer pick the largest chicken due to the packaging’s concealment and it may leak while people are transporting it home in their cars. 

@butthatsmyopinion

Picking the best Costco rotisserie chicken just got harder than ever #costcotiktok #costcobuys #costcofinds

♬ original sound – But That’s My Opinion

Another TikTok user added that the bags cause added grease buildup from the chicken, plus the chickens are known to be placed upside down. But perhaps more importantly, a health concern has also been raised about the type of plastic bags used, and whether it could release microplastics into the chicken. One TikTok user noted that there is no RIC (Resin Identification Codes) label on the bags as of June 24. 

“Got one yesterday from my local Costco. Was not impressed. The other packaging was way better,” wrote one Reddit user. “I’m personally not a fan of this. Much harder to store. And who wants to eat chicken that’s had plastic stuck to it. High heat and plastic are toxic together,” another added. 

Environmental and logistical benefits of Costco’s new rotisserie chicken packaging 

Despite the backlash, Costco detailed the benefits of the packaging switch in its in-house publication, Costco Connections. “Based on projected rotisserie chicken sales in 2024 in the U.S., the new packaging will save an estimated 17 million pounds of plastic every year,” the company wrote. Additionally, the new bags are more space-efficient for transportation, allowing Costco to remove 1,000 freight trucks from the road each year, thus reducing 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Financially, the switch also appears beneficial. According to the online supplier WebstaurantStore, 200 plastic containers cost $89.99, while 250 rotisserie bags are priced at $78.99.

The history of rotisserie chicken packaging

Interestingly, plastic bags are already common in the rotisserie chicken market. A 2023 taste test by The Washington Post found that seven out of 11  grocery brands used similar bags, including Whole Foods, Giant, Wegmans, Food Lion, Sprouts, Safeway and Walmart. While Costco’s rotisserie chicken placed seventh in the taste test, its size and low price still make it a significant bargain.

More on Costco: Top 6 Costco TikTok Hacks to Uncover Hidden Gems, Save Money + More

Some fans have positive reactions about Costco’s rotisserie chicken packaging 

While some Costco fans are upset, others appreciate that the price remains unchanged. One TikTok user commented, “My grocery stores have done this forever you’ll be fine.” Another added, “If it doesn’t effect the taste or price i’m fine with it.” 

On Reddit, one user commented, “People acting like they’ll stop buying $5 cheap chicken just cause of the packaging.” Another highlighted the environmental benefits: “I’m glad to be wasting less plastic!” 

Is a reversal likely?

Despite the backlash, a course reversal seems unlikely. However, one TikTok user posted a viral video showing the “Costco Oracle” with dozens of chickens in the old clamshell containers, sparking hope among some customers. As the debate continues, it’s clear that any change to a beloved product like Costco’s rotisserie chicken is bound to ruffle some feathers.  


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