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Your groceries are still shrinking

You may not notice you're getting less because the packages may stay the same size. Oh, and the price isn't going down.

By Teresa Mears Jan 6, 2011 4:41PM

Do the things you buy seem not to last as long as they used to?


It's not that you're eating more ice cream (at least we hope you're not). It's that the packages keep getting smaller.


The incredible shrinking product trend that started several years ago is still going strong, Consumer Reports writes in its February issue. Post continues after video.

It's a stealth price hike, says Consumer Reports senior editor and shopping expert Tod Marks. As he told WUSA TV in Washington, D.C.:

It's easier for them to simply shave a little bit off here, a little bit off there, and it's less likely to antagonize costumers. The fact of the matter is people know prices, but they don't know sizes.

Here are some of the downsized products found by Consumer Reports and its readers:

  • Ivory dishwashing detergent, down from 30 ounces to 24 ounces.
  • Tropicana orange juice, down from 64 ounces to 59 ounces.
  • Kraft Singles cheese, down from 24 slices to 22 slices. (As far as we know, the individual slices have not shrunk, but keep an eye on them.)
  • Haagen-Dazs ice cream, down from 16 ounces to 14 ounces.
  • Scott toilet tissue, down from 115.2 square feet a roll to 104.8 square feet.
  • Chicken of the Sea pink salmon, down from 3 ounces to 2.6 ounces.

Manufacturers told the magazine that costs were rising, so they had a choice of either shrinking the product or raising the price.


Sally Greenberg, executive director at the National Consumers League, thinks raising the price would be more honest.


"If they have to pass prices along, they should explain, 'We have higher fuel prices and we have to make up the price somehow,'" she told Lyneka Little at ABC News. "I think it makes consumers mad, it makes them cynical about being deceived, and consumers would appreciate a more straightforward approach."


She reminds us that unit pricing is our friend and is the best way to compare products, since the same size juice container may contain varying amounts of juice depending on the brand -- or even the variety of the same brand, as Consumer Reports noted.


Consumer Reports also advises looking at different brands, including store brands, and complaining to manufacturers, who often respond with coupons.


What products have you noticed shrinking? Would you rather see higher prices or smaller packages?


Even more is buying staples such as flour, sugar, salt, butter, coffee, eggs, etc and using them to cook our own breakfasts instead of buying costly prepared goods.

Meet your new pals, Mr. Cookbook and Mr. Stove.

Apr 21, 2011 8:34PM

I want then packaging to stay the same and be honest and raise the price.  Why do I want to buy 2 packages of something and pay twice for the container because the quantity I want or need is not there.   The perfect example of this is frozen vegetables.  For the most part, they were bagged in a 16oz (1 lb) pgk.  Now the price is the same all right, but they are down to 12 oz. (3/4 lb).  So I end up having to buy 2 packages to prepare enough, and have to store the partial bag of unused.  Makes no sense to me.  

Mar 3, 2012 4:34PM

They need to just raise the pricing.. Do they know how frustrating it is to cook something we have used 1 package or box for years and it feeds our family of 3 then all of a sudden we are standing there going who ate all the supper becuase there is not enough for all 3 of us.  HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY.. we get, we KNOW ALL TO WELL GAS PRICES have SKYROCKETED, do underestimate our intelligence, we do figure this out. Id much rather pay the extra 30cents per package then have to buy a full second one just to feed us.


Apr 21, 2011 9:55PM
I would love to see at least one company actually brag and boast that its products did not shrink in size.  Some ice cream still comes in full half-gallon cartons, but that's rare.  Discount Drug Mart in Ohio still sells its store-brand ice cream in full half-gallon cartons, for example.  Some store-brand orange juice, as well as Minute Maid, are still in full half-gallon cartons.  Usually it's the store brands that tend to hold the line on packaging size, but even some store brands are shrinking their packaging...Giant Eagle and Great Value (Walmart) ice cream went down to 48 ounces.  Most coffee is anywhere from 10 to 12 ounces...I don't think anybody sells a full-pound container of coffee anymore. 
Feb 8, 2012 7:18AM
Pepsi just went from a case (24 cans) to 20 cans for the same price. Food is getting out of control cost wise. What I bought for $200 2 yrs ago now costs $250. What are you going to do but pay? Stop eating?
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