Have you been to the grocery store lately? A different brand of cereal is getting smaller every week. I noticed the ice cream getting smaller along with everything else in the grocery store getting smaller. I bet you didn’t know however that the majority of the prices of these products are staying the same to keep the American public fooled. I told this to many people I know. One of the responses I got was “Well at least the prices are the same.” This person actually believed himself that the prices are the same and nothing is wrong. I guess he has been drinking to much Fluoride in his water to think. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that less product for the same price is higher prices. The next time you are in a grocery store just look how small everything is for the money, compared to what it was about ten years ago. Its time to wake up America from your slumber before its to late. Or you can keep believing that our rogue government didn’t sell us out and everything is fine. Ignorance is Bliss in America……………….
Consumers Getting Less Food for the Same Prices
posted 6:23 pm Mon May 19, 2008 – ARLINGTON, Va.
Americans are clearly feeling the pinch at the gas station and the grocery store, but not all food prices are rising. ABC 7 found some food prices that were staying the same yet consumers were getting less for their money.
Two packages of soap with the same wrapper, pulled right off the same grocery store shelf and selling for the same price didn’t look different at first glance. After a closer look, the older package is three bars of four to five ounces of soap and the new package is three bars of four ounces of soap. “That’s not good,” said Arlington resident Mia Corbitt.
In fact, packages are shrinking on aisle after aisle in grocery stores such as familiar products, like Skippy Peanut Butter. A standard 18 ounce jar of the peanut butter is being replaced by a very similar looking, but smaller, 16.3 ounce jar, but the price isn’t getting smaller.
“They both say exactly the same thing, only this is the old one and this is the new one,” said Arlington resident Sheliah Ruffine.
“It’s dishonest what they are doing, really. If the packaging size is about the same, it’s completely dishonest,” said Corbitt.
Another favorite, Breyers Ice Cream, the packages looked the same, but they weren’t. One package is 1.75 quarts, while another flavor was 1.5 quarts. The boxes, though, appear the same size and so does the price. Country Crock Margarine shrunk as well. It used to be a three pound tub and now it’s three ounces lighter.
Grocery stores can’t keep up with the change and a closer look at a price tag shows it. The store, in some cases, says you’re buying the old larger size, but in fact your getting less for the same amount of money.
MORE FROM ABC 7/NewsChannel 8’s KRIS VAN CLEAVE:
There are more shrinking packages than we could fit in our report, and there are two great web resources tracking these changes that are worth visiting.
In the last couple years we’ve seen the size of some cereal shrink from 14oz boxes to 12.25 oz (translating to about two fewer bowls per box), and almost now infamous shrinking Cadbury Egg.
The consumerist.com has a number of products including plans to shrink Wrigley Gum (including Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red and other brands) into a ‘Slim Pack’ that will have 15 pieces of gum down from 17 but carry the same price tag.
Speaking to Brandweek in March, Paul Chibe, a Wrigley’s VP says consumers won’t care about the smaller size because, “To them the value goes up because they’re getting a better tasting product in a better package. Price is not the way the consumer is looking at this.”
The article then quotes Brian Morgan, senior research analyst at Euromonitor saying: “[Package shrink] is the strategy that has been used in many categories to accomplish a price increase without consumers really noticing or to smooth over the negative reaction.”
The redesigned package is below (Courtesy Brandweek). Their packs of gum have contained 17 pieces since 1964 says Brandweek.
The consumerist also cites customer reporters from earlier this month that some Tropicana Orange Juice Products are getting smaller, specifically their new easy pour pitcher, which apparently is replacing their current 96 ounce product.
ABC7 News confirmed the bottle is getting smaller, and the price is staying about the same. Instead of 96 ounces, you get 89 ounces in a redesigned container that’s intended, Tropicana spokeswoman Karen May says, to make it easier for any consumer, especially children, to pour a glass of juice.
Further she says, “we understand people are grappling with the escalation of price increases. Like many companies, our costs from commodities such the oil we use to make plastic bottles, fuel our factories, and ship our juice across the country have dramatically increased as well.”
May says the product will start appearing on shelves in June.
Papertowels too are getting smaller, but the makers of Brawny say there’s a good reason these rolls of paper towels shrunk from 110 sheets per roll to 88 sheets per roll.
“Its not the same towel, it’s a totally different towel,” says James Malone, Spokesman for Georgia Pacific, the maker of Brawny. “It’s a thicker towel, more fiber in the towel, softer towel, more absorbent. What the research showed us is they needed to use fewer sheets per task.”
Mouseprint.org is another consumer resource tracking the shrinking size of food. They discovered the shrinking country crock from our report and Edy’s ice cream getting smaller—take a look.
You can find their entire food section HERE.
In the story we showed you Dial Soap getting smaller, shrinking from 4.5 ounces a bar to 4.0 ounces while the price stays the same. Scott Moffitt, SVP/GM of personal cleansing for The Dial Corporation says the size reduction was necessary because the raw materials used to make soap “has gone double in a very short period of time” and “we need to find a way to recoop the extra costs that are hitting us.” Moffitt says by shrinking their soaps helps cover their increase in costs, but “the benefit we get from downsizing is about a 4th of the cost pressure from this raw material.”
He blames the Federal Government’s subsidies for Biofuels, which include the materials in soap, for creating a run in prices.
But when asked if Dial has any obligation to notify customers of the shrinking product, he says “I don’t know if there is an obligation…prices of products change all the time.”
One lingering question we had–why shrink the product instead of raising the price? Moffitt says, “it seemed to us easier, and less painful to reduce the size then to take the price up. He adds, large retailers like Wal-Mart resist price increases on products, “for some retailors it’s the preferred way to do it.”
Several of the products discussed in our piece (Skippy Peanut Butter, Breyers Ice Cream, and Shedd’s Spread Country Crock) are produced by Unilever. The company provided ABC7 News/NewsChannel8 with a statement explaining the change in size:
“Shedd’s Spread Country Crock, Skippy Peanut Butter and Breyers Ice Cream have always taken great pride in offering the highest quality products at reasonable and fair prices. Recently, the price of our ingredients has gone up dramatically. Manufacturing and transportation costs also have increased significantly with the surge in fuel oil prices. Because of these economic conditions and in order to remain competitive, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our product size.”
And its not just the customer that are struggling to keep up with the changes, two of the stores we shopped had price tags indicating the consumer was buying the older larger size not the smaller new size. A spokesman for Giant said the problem would be corrected.
Same prices, smaller portions: ‘Package shrink’ a growing trend
No, it’s not your imagination. There really is less cereal in your Cheerios box than a year ago.
Manufacturers are scaling back the sizes of products ranging from dog food to chewing gum.
And although prices are staying about the same, if you use a product regularly, “package shrink” could hurt your wallet.
“Downsizing is decades old, but because of the economy, we are seeing more of it,” said Edgar Dworsky, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general for consumer affairs who now edits two consumer Web sites, Consumerworld.com and Mouseprint. org.
Mouseprint is filled with examples of products like ice-cream cartons that have been crafted to contain 1.5 instead of 1.75 quarts and bars of soap that are ounces smaller than previous versions.
“Because their costs are rising, manufacturers can raise the price and possibly lose sales, or they can take out some of the content and hope the consumer doesn’t notice,” Dworsky said.
Some manufacturers come right out and announce that their products are getting smaller:
Last summer, General Mills told investors about its new “Right Size, Right Price” program in which prices of cereals such as Cheerios, Wheaties and Total went up while portion size went down 1.5 ounces per box.
Wrigley recently announced that next year it will gradually replace current gum with reformulated Doublemint, Juicy Fruit and other flavors in packages that will contain 15 instead of 17 sticks.
Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Shamrock Farms and the Kroger Co. have plans to start packaging soda in 16-ounce bottles and milk in three-quarter-gallon jugs.
Prices for these products will be lower than 20-ounce sodas and full gallons of milk.
Other manufacturers have shrunk products with no price reduction – or publicity. Examples include dog food, bathroom tissue, mayonnaise and ice cream.
“Some of the downsizing is sneaky,” Dworsky said. “Manufacturers always tout it when they give you a bonus. But when they downsize, they rarely mention it.”
In some states, there have been few formal customer complaints about shrinking product sizes.
“I think people understand that all businesses today are looking for ways to reduce costs,” said George Seitts, president of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, a food industry lobbying and educational group.
Another possible reason for the lack of complaints: In a weak economy, many shoppers are looking for smaller sizes anyway.
“I’m definitely buying in smaller quantities than I used to,” said Sharon Ayres, who is retired from a job as a business manager at Arizona State University.
Ayers said she used to buy in bulk at a wholesale club but then realized she was throwing extra food away. She has less waste and lower bills since she started buying smaller sizes of private-label products at a Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.
“It’s not as wasteful,” she said.
Sustainability and store-shelf space also may play a role in smaller containers.
Tracy Clark, associate director for the JP Morgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business, said he has noticed that many laundry-detergent bottles have shrunk, but that is because of an industry move toward doubling the strength of the product.
“The idea is that you do the same amount of laundry with less packaging,” he said.