People are often surprised by the price of $14 or $16 a jar. This is particularly true where the customer has been lucky enough to receive free jam every year from a relative.
Artisanal jam is expensive mostly because it is produced in small quantities. And in a place like Calgary, away from major fruit growing regions, most of the fruit is imported. There are no economies of scale to be obtained. Labour is more expensive and the overhead costs are numerous from licensing, permits, insurance, and fees for tables and rent on kitchens.
The cost of fruit has risen dramatically for berries in particular because they require a lot of labour hours to pick, they are delicate and ship badly, pickers have not been available due to COVID restrictions, the price of gas has risen and affects the price of shipping, and environmental factors like drought in fruit-growing regions. Jars doubled in price overnight 5 months ago and sugar rose 30% as well.
There are cheaper ways to make jam but I believe the quality suffers. If you make raspberry jam with pectin, the recipe yields twice as many jars of jam as when you don’t use pectin. But you don’t get as much raspberry flavour.
Having said all of the above, you are not paying for the same jam that you can buy at a local big box store for $3.99. I have been spoiled in that I have always been lucky enough to have home made jam. I think it has a depth of flavour that can’t be replicated in big-kettle production. Also, I truly buy the best fruit that is available, often paying much more than “jam fruit” at markets – fruit that is past its prime.