mouse
Go to Homepage


Subscribe to free weekly newsletter

Mouse Print*
is a service of
Consumer World

Support us by using:

Deal Alerter
Visit our sister site:

Consumer Reporters & Advocates in Media


Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

September 8, 2008

Skimpy Peanut Butter — Part 2

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:23 am

The “regular” size jar of peanut butter has been 18 ounces for decades. But if you haven’t checked the label of Skippy recently, you are in for a surprise. 

*MOUSE PRINT:  Unilever removed 3 tablespoons-worth from every jar — that’s 1.7 ounces.

Skippy

How did they do it given that the jars appear to be virtually the same height and circumference?  They hollowed out the bottom more, making an even deeper impression in the plastic — close to half an inch.

Skippy ruler

Mouse Print* asked the company why they downsized the product and did nothing to call the consumer’s attention to that fact. They responded:

Unilever has always taken great pride in offering the highest quality products at reasonable and fair prices. Food inflation is only one element of a general rise in commodity costs – such as oil prices. It is an industry issue that is impacting all companies in the food, beverage and retail sector. Manufacturing and transportation costs also have increased significantly with the surge in fuel oil prices. Like other companies, Unilever is working to mitigate the impact of these rising commodity costs through hedging, product reformulation and cost savings programs. We have chosen to reduce package sizes as one of our responses to these dramatic input cost increases.

Note that they never answered the second part of the question.

Even if shoppers have not yet noticed Skippy’s  reduction in net weight, competitors have.  Look how large the makers of Jif are promoting the fact that their jar is still 18 ounces:

Jif

• • •

36 Comments

  1. Take a look at the size difference between Skippy and Skippy Natural. They sell for the same price, and they used to be the same size…

    Edgar replies: The regular size jar of Skippy Natural is 15 oz, and the larger one is 26 oz.

    Comment by Michael — September 8, 2008 @ 7:06 am
  2. Why should they call attention to the size of the container? As long as the amount is labeled IAW the appropriate regulations, they are in compliance. It is up to the consumer to actually do some work and read the label. All the information for the consume to make an informed decision is on the jar. We all know that costs are going up, and some people like that fact that the price stays the same so they can budget appropriately. Give it a rest.

    Comment by Bill — September 8, 2008 @ 7:29 am
  3. “Give it a rest”? Who forces you to read this web site, Bill?

    Comment by Kyralessa — September 8, 2008 @ 8:48 am
  4. Bill comes off as possibly a substantial stock holder? Responsible companies would alert the consumer regarding content and/or quantity changes. These disclosures would not necessarily mean a decline in sales. It would actually show how this particular company chooses to deal with the obvious increase in operating costs.

    Comment by Ted Cherry — September 8, 2008 @ 9:32 am
  5. Skippy could increase the amount of their (peanut butter)? to 26 oz., or more, and I would still buy Jif. The flavor of Jif is much better.

    Comment by Paul Etheridge — September 8, 2008 @ 9:40 am
  6. No, Peter Pan is teh best.

    Comment by Nico — September 8, 2008 @ 10:23 am
  7. I think it’s the fact that they went to certain lengths to hide the change in jar size from the consumer is the point here. By hollowing out the bottom of the jar, it shows they made a conscious effort to deceive the consumer.

    BTW, you can’t budget appropriately if the contents keep decreasing in size. Sure you may spend the same amount each trip to the grocery, but the number of trips will go up (which means you’ll use more gas).

    Comment by Bart — September 8, 2008 @ 10:32 am
  8. a lot of companies hollow out the bottom of a container to make it look like more product. I especially hate that with wine bottles, I think I have a whole glass of while left and it it just a little, almost makes me want to quit drinking! Almost! Back to peanut butter though, I agree that Peter Pan is the tastiest, skippy has always had toomuch sugar and salt

    Comment by myra — September 8, 2008 @ 11:44 am
  9. I am glad it’s just Skimpy (I like that better) right now. I fear they all will eventually reduce in size, just like the ice cream, cereal, and who knows what else. Next our soap will reduce in size.

    Comment by JW — September 8, 2008 @ 11:49 am
  10. What will cause Unilever to change its attitude? How about loss of market share. If Jiff and others are able to take away some of Unilevers market share by selling a larger jar for a better price, Unilever may rethink its policy. Time will tell.
    Also last week several people were concerned about the presence of palm oil in peanut butter but no one questioned why it contained palm oil. I believe it is an emulsifier. Have they forgotten “old fashioned peanut butter” where the oil would separate from the solids and rise to the top of the jar. You would have solid peanut butter in the bottom of the jar and a layer of peanut oil on the top. You had to stir it every time you wanted to take some out of the jar. If you didn’t stir it enough, you ended up with a solid mass at the bottom of the jar with virtually no oil to soften it.

    Comment by John P. — September 8, 2008 @ 1:34 pm
  11. As a regular mouseprint reader and an aware consumer, I realize that companies more often than not try to make it… let’s say, less obvious, that the product size / quantity has been reduced. From a practical stand point of manufacturing, I would imagine that telling the jar making machine to put a divot on the bottom of the container may have been less expensive than changing everything to accommodate a new size jar. This is strictly Discovery channel knowledge but it would seem logical to me. Same reason Staples will ship a box of pens in a standard, too big box with those blown up air tubes. Standardizing sizes (one box fits all?) is frequently cheaper.

    The divot is deceptive but consumers should be paying attention to the reality of what they purchase; like making a sure a sales price is rung at the register and the regular price. I’ve got food allergies so I read labels all the time to make sure nothing has changed.

    If a price goes up and no one notices, did it really increase?

    Comment by Susan — September 8, 2008 @ 1:36 pm
  12. I prefer Smuckers Goober PB&J. Go ahead, laugh…:)

    Comment by Peter — September 8, 2008 @ 2:19 pm
  13. I agree with Bart. If we are making more trips to the grocery store, then we are using more gas, more plastic bags and probably exerting ourselves more which causes us to exhale even more CO2. If Skippy really cared about the environment they would sell peanut butter in 55 gallon drums for the same price they charge now for just a few ounces.

    Also, peanut butter is the life’s blood of lower to middle income families, so by hollowing out the bottom of their peanut butter jar, Skippy is essentially imposing a middle-class tax increase on those families that can afford it the least! I guess when you dine on caviar with every meal you can keep sticking to the little guy!!

    Thanks a lot Skippy!!!

    PEACE OUT!
    Shawn

    Comment by Shawn — September 8, 2008 @ 2:50 pm
  14. This just goes to show that no one looks at the bottom of jars (including myself). I believe Unilever knew this, thus the deception of keeping the jars the same side. But bottom deception isn’t limited to jars or bottles. Has anyone noticed how some soap bars use the same deception? The bottoms of my bars of Dial soaps are deeply sculptured while the tops are mildly concaved. If memory serves, weren’t bars of soap convexed on both sides?

    Sorry to venture off the Skippy subject! But I do see a parallel here.

    Frankie

    Comment by Frankie — September 8, 2008 @ 5:33 pm
  15. My local supermarket has a peanut butter machine. A hopper with peanuts – period!!! The machine grinds the peanuts into peanut butter, no additives at all! It is actually cheaper lb. for lb., than the commercial sugar mixtures! It does have to be refrigerated (no additives to prevent spoilage and separation). But it tastes sooooo much better!

    Comment by Mick — September 9, 2008 @ 2:46 am
  16. Let me just add that I live the peanut butter series here. Keep it coming Edgar!

    Comment by Jasper — September 9, 2008 @ 8:54 am
  17. I always eat Jif anyways.

    Comment by Tom — September 9, 2008 @ 9:54 am
  18. Unilever could ship more jars per crate or box if they didn’t use the hollow bottom. They keep their unit price and reduced volume per jar, but increase units per shipment on the same cost of shipment. How about helping out the consumer that way? It may be worth it to them to try if it saves market share. I guess Mouse Print has a role, in that case: to let us know that they could, but don’t.

    Comment by Clint — September 9, 2008 @ 10:17 am
  19. This is why I go to whole foods and grind the peanuts with that little machine. It is really expensive but as far as I know it still contains only peanuts unless they throw in some phony ones. Yes, the peanut oil sometimes separates but you can stir it together yourself.

    Comment by ellen — September 9, 2008 @ 11:30 am
  20. So are they going to update all of my recipes that call for an 18oz jar of PB?

    Comment by Joe — September 10, 2008 @ 4:47 pm
  21. What recipes are you putting an entire 18 oz of PB into?

    Comment by Shawn — September 11, 2008 @ 11:08 am
  22. This past summer, I wrote to every ice cream company that sells products in my
    local stores, complaining about the reduction in size of their “large”
    containers of ice cream. They all sent me messages about rising costs,
    concern for the customer, blah, blah, blah. My point is that ice cream was
    always sold in pints, quarts, and half-gallons. Please, let us return to
    that! Companies need to respect their customers and allow us to make the
    choice regarding how much food we want to purchase and how much money we want
    to spend!

    Comment by Giselle Ko — September 11, 2008 @ 6:36 pm
  23. I’m waiting for them to reduce the size of a gallon of milk to a couple ounces less than a gallon…
    hahaha

    Comment by Bill Clay — September 12, 2008 @ 3:53 pm
  24. Based on their response, they are all for the happiness of the consumer… yeah right! If the costs are the real concern, why would they redesign the packaging, which costs money, to deceive the consumer and not inform them of what they have done. If they really cared about the consumer, they would have kept the same container, raised the price, and informed the consumer it was necessary due to market conditions. Bill you must be a stock holder… a beneficiary of the deceptive practices.

    Comment by John Koutroulelis — September 14, 2008 @ 6:21 pm
  25. Has anyone else noticed that not only are we getting less but nothing seems to taste the same? I thought it was just my taste buds but a lot of people seem to think the same thing. When I was a kid peanut butter was my FAVORITE food. The wonderful peanutty taste, the smooth creaminess….but it now tastes more oily and less peanutty than it used to. I went from being a HUGE fan of peanut butter (used to eat it right out of the jar) to hardly eating it at all. I now buy it just for using in recipes. But since the PB tastes different so does everything I cook with it. Peanut butter cookies and PB pie take on that oily flavor and they are just not as good any more. Speaking of recipes, beware of package size decreases because it can really mess up your favorite old recipes.

    Comment by Cherri — September 18, 2008 @ 9:38 am
  26. Thank you. I will be buying Jif from now on or until they decide to deceive me.

    Comment by Evelyn — September 19, 2008 @ 11:30 am
  27. It all comes down to habits and not reading labels. Thats why they change the depth of the “jar” with the punt in the bottom. Vegetable canners years ago changed the diameter of the cans and kept the height the same. Resulting in a few ounces less per can than before. PS Wine bottles (usually reds) have a punt to capture the sediment not to cheat you out of a few ounces of wine.

    Comment by Bob Weza — October 2, 2008 @ 2:40 pm
  28. What concerns me about the reduction in package size is the hidden inflation in price that is not calculated into the government’s Consumer Price Index. I’ll bet that the real rate of inflation, based on both increasing prices and reduced package sizes, is well over 10%. Spare me the drivel that this is in our best interest: it is pure greed on their part. Here’s a good one: the cranberry concentrate pills I purchase now have less concentrate in them so the get the same dose I have to take an extra pill. The 64oz ice cream container is now 48oz! I thought it was bad when it was reduced to 56oz. They’ve taken it too far.

    Comment by Charlie — October 31, 2008 @ 11:28 am
  29. Truly one of the more devious tricks perpetrated by a national brand.Shameful.Honestly,I get nauseous reading the spokesperson doublespeak.Why,America do we tolerate this insolence??!!

    Comment by mike hunt — December 9, 2008 @ 9:07 am
  30. I have to say that the truth of the matter is that this is really meant to impact the more disenfranchised of our society. The impact that this has on families utilizing food stamps and WIC is deplorable.

    Comment by CJMW — December 9, 2008 @ 2:51 pm
  31. Well, this is what it did for me. I just bought a jar of Skippy last night, and I saw a report about this on the Today show this morning. So I returned the Skippy, and bought Jiff. I also made it a point of telling the store manager that he should also tell the sales people from Skippy. I was indeed a loyal customer of their products for well over thirty years, but not anymore. Hopefully many consumers of their products will choose others, and that will send a very clear message that sneaky tactics won’t be tolerated.

    Comment by Bob — December 9, 2008 @ 3:11 pm
  32. Good, I hope you enjoy your Jif and the trans fat it has in it.

    Comment by John — December 11, 2008 @ 12:25 am
  33. The idea that the consumer should ‘keep track’ of sizes and prices paid for products is ludicrous! How many people actually know for EACH PRODUCT they purchase the size and comparable price of the item. How much time would it take to track and then cross-check these amounts? Women mostly work outside the home and are hard pressed to even get their marketing, cooking and other duties done and still have time for their children and –sometimes–for themselves! We all purchase dozens of products per week!
    As far as palm and other tropical oils, it turns out that the American Food industry put the kabash on tropical oils claiming health risks due to them. If you read up on these tropicals, it turns out that they are actually healthier in the long-run than other oils.
    For the BEST peanut butter, that DOES taste as good as the ‘old days’ patronize your local health-food or organic local store and get the fresh ground product. You can also take your own jars and get a price break [at least I do at Food Mill in Oakland]. You also get to pick smooth, crunchy, salted or no salt. These local ‘health’ stores do not put additives, do not hide the fact that their product, even specifically aimed at children, has salmonella, etc. The large corporate food distributors are not as invested in their customers as local, smaller stores. Use of local distributors, growers also reduces gas use, carbon emissions and other social ills.

    Comment by Kathy Kelley — January 31, 2009 @ 2:49 pm
  34. My grocery store prints the unit price (price per ounce for example) as well as the product price on the shelf under the product display. This makes a decrease in the product weight for the same price obvious since the unit price increases. Don’t most grocery stores do this?

    Edgar replies: Many stores have unit pricing, but to detect a change in the price per ounce, the shopper would have had to memorize what it was previously. I don’t know any shopper who does that.

    Comment by David Ferris — February 2, 2009 @ 10:54 am
  35. Cherri, I don’t know if it’s the same in the US, but, in Canada around 2002, Skippy and Kraft both started culling peanut oil from the peanut butter and replacing it with cheaper soybean oil, giving it a horrible, grassy smell and flavor. The difference in taste was dramatic and I stopped buying it. Soybean oil is the second ingredient before sugar in Kraft/Skippy peanut butter sold in Canada (This is besides the hydrogenated oils that are added as emulsifiers.) Thankfully, Peter Pan hasn’t followed the same route.

    Comment by Bud — June 22, 2009 @ 9:38 pm
  36. Now we have to be concerned about all the pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, etc., used on the peanuts, that were banned in this country
    twenty-five years ago. Not to mention any unsanitary conditions. Are
    we paying GA farmers NOT to grow peanuts now? If I ever see made in
    China on a jar, that’s when I stop eating Skippy peanut butter
    for good.

    Comment by linda — December 29, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by: WordPressPrivacy Policy
Copyright © 2006-2014. All rights reserved. Advertisements are copyrighted by their respective owners.