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June 16, 2008

Tropicana: Please Don’t Squeeze the Customer

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:52 am

Manufacturers are rushing to downsize their products as a sneaky way to raise the price without the customer realizing it many times. As this proliferates, we are going to see fewer and fewer standard size products on supermarket shelves.

The quart of mayonnaise has gone by the wayside, as has the three pound tub of margarine. Now it is orange juice’s turn. Typically sold by the quart, half gallon, three quart jug, and gallon, we are beginning to see oddball sizes replace the old standard ones.

Tropicana is the latest to downsize just in the past few weeks. Their three quart jug no longer holds 96 ounces.



Seven ounces are gone from the jug. Side by side, the difference in jug shape is obvious, but consumers rarely get to see the old and the new together on a supermarket shelf. While they may notice the shape is different, they may not realize they are getting almost a cup less of oj. According to one supermarket dairy manager, the price has stayed the same.

And as is often the case when a product is downsized, the manufacturer diverts your attention away from the net weight statement by pointing out something new. In this case, they discontinued the old screw cap and added a new flip top one. On second thought, maybe the company just found a new way to screw customers.

A Tropicana customer service representative explained the company’s position:

The downsizing from 96 to 89 ounces wasn’t a decision we took lightly. As you are aware, oil costs have skyrocketed. Oil is used to make plastic bottles, fuel our factories, and ship our juice across the country in refrigerated trains and trucks. We had the choice to either increase prices or to downsize the bottle. We chose to downsize the bottle but add value through the innovation of the SNAP cap and new bottle, which consumers were seeking.

Although you may not agree with our decision, we hope you can appreciate that they were made in the best interest of our consumers and shareholders.


• • •


  1. I know all of this is in response to the high fuel prices. I just wonder if they’ll come back to normal if/when gas prices return to normal.

    Comment by Bart — June 16, 2008 @ 8:09 am
  2. Gas prices never fall as fast as they rise.

    Comment by Shawn — June 16, 2008 @ 9:05 am
  3. @ Bart: Everybody *blames* fuel prices, but in the mean that that’s just an easy scape goat. There is no reason whatsoever, why manufacturers wouldn’t just increase the price. They did that without much protest when the Florida orange harvest was poor a couple years ago due to a heavy hurricane season. BTW: Did the prices ever go down when there was no heavy hurricane season for the next years? Of course not.

    Comment by Jasper — June 16, 2008 @ 9:39 am
  4. Is it my imagination, or is the ‘Never From Concentrate’ logo also gone? Does this mean it could now be from concentrate?

    Comment by Drak — June 16, 2008 @ 9:59 am
  5. The “Never from Concentrate” is there. It’s right above the net weight but blurry and hard to read.

    I wonder if these hidden price increases truly get accounted for when inflation numbers are determined.

    Comment by Vince — June 16, 2008 @ 11:37 am
  6. I’m not sure when the last time I asked a manufacturer to change a container size. Especially, make it smaller so I can pay more per ounce. Sounds good to me.

    Comment by blasher — June 16, 2008 @ 3:37 pm
  7. I sure could swallow it better if they just raised the price,
    instead of trying to deceive us .Raising prices is a fact of life
    that we understand.Trying to flim-flam us leaves me feeling what other dirty tricks can we expect ? It’s so sad to be were we are today with
    Company’s we depend on for our food.

    Comment by Mac — June 16, 2008 @ 4:05 pm
  8. I love it when a representative tries to defend their decision. I’ve yet to see them give a reason – only an excuse!

    Leave the packaging alone and raise the prices for pete’s sake!

    Comment by Frankie — June 16, 2008 @ 5:30 pm
  9. Contrary to the companies clsim, I don’t believe the consumers interest had nothing to do with the companies decision. It was made in the best interest of the share holders alone.

    Aniother lesson for customers is when they see a revised label on a product, be sure and check the statement of contents to see what else may have been changed. A new label is a good indicator of a down sized unit. If they have increased the amount, you know the company is going to heavily promote that change.

    Comment by John P. — June 16, 2008 @ 5:34 pm
  10. re Vince @11:37am

    That is a good question whether the size of the container is accounted for when inflation/cost of living values are calculated. I’ll bet not.

    Comment by blasher — June 16, 2008 @ 6:47 pm
  11. In better news: the standard OJ ration has been increased from 20 bottles per year to 22 bottles per year.

    Comment by Anon — June 16, 2008 @ 9:08 pm
  12. TREE RIPE has cut the 64 ounce size down to 59 ounces. tropicana will follow soon.

    check out tree ripe’s website (google it) and you can see the slimmer design where they cut out 5 ounces.

    Comment by scir91 from YouTube — June 16, 2008 @ 11:51 pm
  13. “I sure could swallow it better if they just raised the price.”

    BS! Complainers complain. If they raised the price you would complain about that too.

    Comment by Shawn — June 17, 2008 @ 9:37 am
  14. I never understood why my local store sells the 96-oz contain for almost twice the price of the 64-oz container, so I never bought the larger size. And they seem to put the 64-oz on sale a lot, which means I get an even better deal with the smaller size.

    But as scir indicated above, I expect that 64-oz to drop maybe to 56-oz or something like they did with ice cream. Maybe the 89-oz size will eventually *BE* twice the size of the small containers to justify twice the price.

    May be time to plant those orange seeds since I live in orange country anyway.

    Comment by RS — June 17, 2008 @ 9:44 am
  15. Who really cares about price when the bottle is so pretty…

    Comment by Matt — June 17, 2008 @ 10:40 am
  16. Well, at least this time they made a poor excuse instead of the prefab one the other companies are using. This is happening so much that they should just give it a section of it’s own on the side that updates all on it’s own. Catching them in the act of screwwing us doesn’t seem to be stopping them though does it? There should be some law or something that makes it mandatory that manufactures have to at least try to make consumers aware of Weight changes. I know that’s never going to happen, but what A nice dream right.

    Why can’t a company just put it on their commercials anyway. like a fresh new marketing Idea. “due to inflation and wanting to keep ourself in the red, we are going to charge you more for your 96 oz, but hey at least we’re not hiding it from you like our competitors, here see this is their old package and this is there new, for the same price in your neighborhood. Hey at least we’re honest.”

    Comment by Rookee — June 17, 2008 @ 9:24 pm
  17. Shawn you must work for Tropicana. Why would you defend
    them and be looking at this sight. NICE TRY

    Comment by jed — June 17, 2008 @ 10:17 pm
  18. “Shawn you must work for Tropicana. Why would you defend
    them . . . ?”

    jed, just where in my statement did I defend Tropicana? I simply stated that complainers will find something to complain about in any situation. You are obviously a complainer.

    Comment by Shawn — June 18, 2008 @ 1:23 pm
  19. What galls me about all the increases is that my raise this year was 4%, and from what I hear from my friends I’m lucky.
    This is basically a 7.3% increase in the price of OJ which compared to my home heating oil, electricity, gasoline, trash disposal, taxes, etc. is actually quite a bargain. At
    this rate I will be in the poor house within the next two years.

    Comment by My Money's Gettin' Low — June 19, 2008 @ 8:05 am
  20. Thanks to those who complain and do something about it many companies are kept in check. Isnt this the reason why most people post comments here?

    Comment by Peter — June 19, 2008 @ 1:22 pm
  21. I’ve been seeking out a way for me to be lazier and thank goodness Tropicana has
    come to my resuce with this convenient snap top. I will no longer have to take the one second it took me to screw off the old lid. And my fears of losing the lid are over! Thank you Tropicana, I’ll take this over an extra cup of juice anyday.

    Comment by Maryann — June 19, 2008 @ 5:54 pm
  22. Why don’t we all write Consumer Protection Division and complain to them?

    Comment by Marta — June 20, 2008 @ 8:41 am
  23. Now people make more trips to the store to buy these downsized products like juice
    and detergent and consume more gas for which they have to pay more and more
    everyday. So they are losing twice. Whatever the reason is, at the end of the day,
    the little man ends up losing.

    Comment by Dan — June 20, 2008 @ 9:14 am
  24. Good on you, Edgar, for noticing what I have been seeing for years now. First it was Cup of Soup, reducing the number of packets in their soup box. So I called them. I was told ‘the consumer wants less product’. Reallllly? I’ve never wanted ‘less’ product.

    Then it was Dannon. When I called them, I was told ‘eight ounces is too much for our consumer to eat in one sitting’. Realllllllly? I can eat eight ounces in one sitting, I wonder where these lightweights live?

    THEN it was the knife in the back, Turkey Hill. A half gallon was no longer a half gallon? It was reduced by a FULL CUP? With the promise aka lie, that the price would be appropriately reduced? Oh really, have they BEEN to my supermarket? When I called THEM, I was told there was a change in the machinery. REALLLLLLLLLY? Well, at least I wasn’t told that the consumer wanted less ice cream, because NO ONE wants less ice cream. Oh, and they threw a few coupons at me to shut me up. Fat chance.

    And, to add insult to injury, the former half gallons then less than half gallons are going down AGAIN, by ANOTHER FULL CUP. But the prices remain the same.

    So, Edgar, what are you going to do about these crooks that are robbing us blind without a gun?

    Yeah, thought so.

    As the Wicked Witch said: oh, what a world.

    Edgar replies: Since the practice is not illegal, all you can do is try to educate people about what is happening, and get them to become more “net weight” conscious when shopping.

    Comment by dolores — June 21, 2008 @ 8:10 am
  25. Doesn’t the amount of energy required to produce an organge juice carton decrease proportionately as the number of ounces it contains increases? This inverse ratio makes Tropicana’s explanation that it has reduced the size of its cartons because of the oil crisis a fallacious one.

    Comment by Joel — June 23, 2008 @ 6:35 pm
  26. I would love for Tropicana to respond to this question: Exactly what value (in $’s) does Tropicana feel their new top is worth? I bet if you gave most consumers of buying the old container with the old top versus the new smaller container with the new top they would find more value from the additional juice than from the type of top. Tropicana – please get honest with people and tell us it costs more to produce and ship the product than trying to play games with our perceptions. We are all big girls and boys and understand the cost is going up therefore it is probably going to cost us more. I will no longer buy your product until you start trusting us with the reality instead of letting your marketing teams try and fool us.

    Comment by Steve — June 26, 2008 @ 12:56 pm
  27. They downsize instead of raising prices because they know a lot of people have budgets for what they buy, eg. I’ll pay up to $7 for a carton of orange juice (Singapore dollars), but if it passes that threshold, then I just won’t buy (or might switch to a cheaper competitor or alternative product).

    Downsizing is a way for companies to fool customers into remaining within their budgets.

    Comment by Doug — June 26, 2008 @ 11:26 pm
  28. I don’t condone the deception, but I think I would rather the container become smaller than the price go up – as long as the container became larger again when OJ became cheaper. This would force a kind of “dollar cost averaging” on the consumer. When the price per cup is high, we buy fewer cups; when low, more. In this way, we eat more of the low-priced food and less of the high. (This assumes that not all foods are rising and falling in lockstep – that some are always better bargains than others.) Again, I don’t condone the deception; I surely want to be aware of what is happening.

    Comment by David in Brooklyn — July 11, 2008 @ 6:23 pm
  29. A company like Tropicana probably did a lot of customer research before making this change. Among the factors I’m sure they took into account:

    a) if doing a deceptive redesign, percent of customers who would realize they were being deceived by redesign
    b) of these, percent of customers, realizing they have been deceived, who stop switch to a competitor or drink less OJ
    c) if just raising prices, percent of customers who would switch to a competitor or drink less OJ

    Obviously, they believe that the percent who realize they’re being deceived (and who read this post), and who would take negative action, is less than the percent who would take negative action if the priced had just been raised.

    It’s just another company doing what they need to do to keep their bottom line. If people make enough fuss about it, maybe option C will become a more worthy option.

    Comment by Mike — July 11, 2008 @ 11:04 pm
  30. “I will no longer buy your product until you start trusting us with the reality instead of letting your marketing teams try and fool us.” On those grounds, I wonder what products you DO buy. Will you resort to growing and squeezing your own oranges, milking your own cow, churn your own butter. Prices increase, consumers become more conscientious buyers, and companies do what they can to keep their business. Marketing is an entire field of study and a career field dedicated to doing such things. Call it deception if you want, but what marketing isn’t? “Complainers will complain” Thank blogs and forums for creating more of them.

    Comment by JT — July 13, 2008 @ 9:35 am
  31. With all the changes these companies are making by downsizing the amount in their containers – it is going to affect some recipes. I have several recipes that say a can of this or a carton of that (if they change the ounces – it will change the recipe). One recipe in particular for a peanut butter candy calls for a box of 10 X sugar and 1 jar of Marshmallow fluff. I don’t believe either of those products have changed ounces yet, but if they do, how would I know how to adjust the recipe. Let’s face it they are trying to make it look like they are keeping the cost down, when in fact it is costing the same or more with their change in the amount in a container.

    Comment by Judy Kilborne — July 21, 2008 @ 9:56 am
  32. I find the change in size more understandable than the poor design of the new product. I just spilled Orange juice all over myself because I shook the container and the newly innnoved “snap cap” snapped open and sent juice all over me and my kitchen.

    Comment by Mike Gibbons — July 22, 2008 @ 6:06 pm
  33. I NEVER seeked a snap cover and new container from this manufacturer nor have I seen demonstrations on the news of thousands of discontent consumers picketing around their corporate headquarters demanding snap lids and new containers. Where does this CEO get his data?

    Comment by Randy — August 5, 2008 @ 9:44 am
  34. I know that is great to sit here and complain about this. Do the simple thing and just don’t buy it. That is what hurts these companies. I know we all want to gripe about this. Guess what they don’t care??? All they care about is making a profit and they don’t care if they have to shrink the bottle. At the end of the day it is up to you to not buy this stuff. If we all complained and I mean really complain like call them and bug them then it might matter but nobody does.

    Comment by Charles Huck — August 9, 2008 @ 12:27 am
  35. Then there are the complainers who complain about complainers.
    At least two in this thread alone; go away if you’re here to pointlessly
    play devil’s advocate and cluck your tongue and give us all a big parental “shame on you for complaining” line of nonsense.

    As an American citizen I have every right to complain about the corporatization and homogenization and generification of our so-called society. Mouse Print is here to call these greedy stock-holder-centric corporations on there slavishness to the short-term, and their aparatchik “spokespersons”/apologists on their BS.

    Comment by James Crow — August 16, 2008 @ 9:15 am
  36. Tropicana is another company that abandoned America by going overseas for the oranges and selling off the groves in Florida to land developers and/or putting U.S. producers out of business. Why would anyone trust them? I stopped buying their products months ago. They deserve to be boycotted and put out of business!!

    Comment by lonemountain — August 18, 2008 @ 1:50 pm
  37. As a person who has enjoyed Tropicana orange juice for many years,I would like to comment on the “easy to pour” lid. It is very difficut to remove the inner liner and spills every time to try to remove it.It is even more difficult when you have arthritis in your hands. Why do you have to change something that works? If you are reducing the amount of juice in a container I don’t think changing the lid will take our thoughts off of the lesser amount of juice we are receiving.

    Comment by PL — August 27, 2008 @ 12:53 pm
  38. Being a conscientious shopper, I noted immediately that the new jug was several oz smaller than the other. At the same time tho, I had two $1 off coupons in my hand. So, guess that’s que sera, sera until I use the second one. I also found a small problem getting the inside cover off. Taking heed of Mike Gibbons’ post, I’ll be careful when I shake it. Luckily, I don’t yet have arthritis (almost 76).

    Comment by pat — August 31, 2008 @ 8:42 pm
  39. The new “disguise top” is awful. First of all, it takes a tool to pull it open, so as not to break skin on your finger. My next step was to shake the juice, as instructed on the label. Unfortunately, upon reopening the new top, the excess juice that is caught in it splatters everywhere, and the juice spills down the sides. thanks a lot tropicana. A sticky more expensive mess. How convenient. Go back to the old bottle, or downsize it, but let us remove the cap so that we aren’t dripped on! BAD DESIGN, BAD CALL. BOO!

    Comment by disappointed — September 3, 2008 @ 12:19 am
  40. New easy pour O J container. How would I know, since I can not even open the container. The pull tab is impossible. Good Morning for the person with a better idea.

    Comment by maryjo warstler — September 23, 2008 @ 5:21 am
  41. 6 months ago I noticed the container had changed & not really caring for the new design, I contacted Tropicana & they said the new flip top was created so that it was easier for children to use & it eliminated the ‘gurgle’ effect making it easier to pour out into a cup. They tried to passify me with several $1.00 off coupons & it wasn’t till later that I heard they had drained 7 ounces from the old design. Fooled me!

    Comment by Bobette Stone — December 9, 2008 @ 7:49 pm
  42. The snap cap is terrible. The new design makes it easier to spill more juice, which means I have to buy it more frequently. And after reading the posts, I find that the jug also holds less juice, and that the company is purchasing oranges overseas. I will looking for an alternative. Shame on all these companies for abandoning the U.S. consumer.

    Comment by ingrid sturgis — December 14, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

    Comment by JANICE MITCHELL — January 5, 2009 @ 4:51 pm
  44. Did the smaller (single serving) cartons lose 2 ounces? The new ones are 14oz. and I could swear that the old ones were 16oz.

    Comment by ned flanders — January 9, 2009 @ 11:00 am
  45. Did the smaller (single serving) cartons lose 2 ounces? The new ones are 14oz. and I could swear the old ones were 16 oz.

    Comment by ned flanders — January 9, 2009 @ 11:04 am
  46. The new click-on lid is a major setback in the design of the bottle. Just yesterday morning I had a major spill which resulted from shaking the bottle well as it instructed me to do. Orange juice and pulp were all over my clothes and I was almost late for work. I was not shaking it too hard either. And if you have to store the container on its side in the refrigerator, it doesn’t seem like that lid would hold as tight a seal as the screw-on lid.

    Oh, and I would say if you’re that concerned about losing your screw-on lid, tie it to your belt loop first – that’s what my mother used to do for me and my retainer.

    Comment by notimpressedThe new click-on lid is a major setback in the design of the bottle. Just yesterday morning I had a major spill which resulted from shaking the bottle well as it instructed me to do. Orange juice and pulp were all over my clothes and I was a — January 13, 2009 @ 1:17 pm
  47. Something is going on at Tropicana – bad packaging design decisions all the way around. Except for the new Valencia juice, which is just WAY expensive.

    Comment by Bryan — January 28, 2009 @ 11:32 pm
  48. No value added with new snap cap. 3 kitchen disasters of orange juice all over the place. Kids don’t appreciate the less secure nature of the new cap. When the container falls to the floor it is a HUGH mess!

    Comment by Craig — February 14, 2009 @ 3:58 pm
  49. Tropicana spent one billion dollars (yes that is with a b) on their new ad agency. Could be that is where the costs have risen.

    All to change from a distinctive vibrant, easy to read package to one that is bland and hard to discern.

    In my area, the supermarkets like Wegmans and HarrisTeeter have excellent house brands that are a better value than Tropicana. And they are still providing them in standard size cartons. No downsizing folks.

    Comment by Peter Hoagland — February 21, 2009 @ 2:31 pm
  50. Noticed the local Safeway has started downsizing the 64 oz. containers for the 59 oz. ones–and of course have kept the same price. Tropicana deserves a HUGE slam, first for their stupidity in new package designs (which, as others have said, look like some store generic and make it very hard to tell apart the different varieties), and now for continuing the product downsizing into the standard 1/2 gallon cartons.

    Comment by John N. — March 16, 2009 @ 2:27 pm
  51. In shopping the other day, I noted the new size juice container. It hold approx 8% less juice and yet the price is the same, this equates to my decision, to convey this to everyone that I have a conversation with that once again greed has prevailed, you and you stock holders will certainly be happy to see the downward spiral you will see in the near future, as customer covert to other brands, and products.

    Comment by Vern Lawer — March 19, 2009 @ 7:10 pm
  52. Recently Tropicana changed packaging on the 64 oz. containers, they designed the package to look all the same with the exception of an 1/4 inch wide stripe stating the variety. Well it bit them in the a**, because the public responded and the amount of consumers switching to another brand in the few short weeks was huge, and now Tropicana has returned to the old packaging.

    But, Tropicana came out with a “New” product…Trop 50, 50% less sugar, 50% less calories, Hmm…Well look at the first ingredient, Filtered water, Hello, The jug is half water and half juice and it is 59 ounces, If you want less calories just pour your OJ in a glass 1/2 full and fill it up with water, same thing right? Saves you about a buck a container.

    The American public just needs to be more observant of what they are buying and tell the companies that we are really not as stupid as they might think we are and to quit ripping us off!

    Comment by Bob L. — April 15, 2009 @ 10:12 pm
  53. Changing is always part of its Packaging,As a Consumer being a wise buyer I always make it a point to check the changes especially the size of the product itself.Downsizing is obviously seen by the regular consumers patronizing the product.For all the wise buyers out there beware and think twice.

    Comment by MAcky — February 19, 2010 @ 4:54 am
  54. Florida’s Natural has a great product and I hope their business increases 10 fold with what Tropicana has done. Imagine their gall bragging about their new container of 59 oz and charging more than their previous 64 oz size!
    I’m all yours Florida’s Natural!!

    Comment by Dick Farally — September 2, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

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