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Honey, someone shrunk the roll of Bounty

To avoid price increases, companies stealthily reduce sizes.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 1:43AM

"LivingAlmostLarge" at the blog with the same name read an article about how manufacturers of food and sundry items are shrinking the size of their products and charging the same price. She found the proof in her own cupboards.

She wrote that "curiosity got the better of me and I started to pull through my cabinets.  And Bounty did decrease the roll size. I can say that because I have some from last summer." Bounty isn't the only product that's smaller now.

Our buddy Nickel at FiveCentNickel reported the same thing about ice cream: "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but over the past couple of years, 'half-gallon' ice cream containers have dropped from 2 quarts (an actual half-gallon) to 1.75 quarts to (most recently) 1.5 quarts. All without a price decrease."

According to an article in USA Today, that first drop in size happened five years ago. We didn't notice, and neither did LivingAlmostLarge and, we're sure, lots of other shoppers.

With companies dealing with higher energy and commodity prices, the article says, "Raising prices when strapped consumers are price-sensitive can be a formula for disaster. That's why there's often less in the box instead."

Other shrinking products include some brands of cereal, bar soap, snack foods and, yes, Bounty (a company spokeswoman said each sheet is now thicker and better). For more information about products that have been downsized, we recommend you read the entire USA Today story.

When consumers of Dreyer's ice cream complained, the company responded that it had to chose between a higher price -- $7 for a carton -- and a smaller container. Some unhappy customers will switch brands, but generally consumers prefer the latter, the article says. After all, how many people would pay $7 for ice cream?

We like LivingAlmostLarge's response: "I guess I'll be more aware now of the size of goods I am buying, even when on 'sale.'"

Published June 26, 2008

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