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May 21, 2012

Here We Downsize Again – Part 1 (2012)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

In the never ending cycle of products periodically shrinking inconspicuously in size rather than directly going up in price, we found some doozies.

Paper towels often are downsized, and Bounty is no exception:


Bounty Select-a-Size went from 121 sheets on a roll down to 111. But, the new package seems to say that you are getting 33% more sheets. How in the world is that possible?


The fine print says the comparison is not with the prior version of this product as you would expect, but rather with a “regular” roll, whatever that size really is. If you think about, it is outrageous that P&G would put a 33% more sheets claim on a package that was actually just downsized in the number of sheets.

Last fall, peanut butter prices went through the roof. What got less publicity was the fact that nuts themselves went up in price too. In the case of Planters nuts, consumers experienced both a direct price increase as well as a downsizing.


As always, manufacturers never call your attention to the fact that they have downsized the product, so you have to become net-weight-conscious in order to catch them playing this sneaky game.

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  1. I’ve often thought there should be a Government Standard for paper towel sizes. It’s hard to figure out if a Jumbo Giant roll of paper towels is bigger than a Mega Roll.

    With the downsizing of products continuing, why don’t the companies just downsize to zero and be done with it. Try to buy a half gallon of Ice Cream. I called Blue Bunny Ice Cream to say that if I wanted a smaller size that I would buy Ben and Jerry’s. My cats don’t eat any less cat food since the Purina bag dropped two pounds in size. That just means I have to go to the store more.

    What we as consumers need to do is to pick a product and do a nationwide boycott until the downsizing is reversed. It would be unfortunate for the employees but this needs to stop. Look what happened with “pink slime”. Enough comsumers said “No”.

    Comment by Jim Simpson — May 21, 2012 @ 10:14 am
  2. The “shrinkage” factor doesn’t bother me that much, the two things that just piss me off and also usually force me to buy a DIFFERENT manufacturers product is first, when they do this crap of trying to tell you the new product has more even though it is smaller, or secondly, when they try to make the new package look the same size or even bigger (I remember when they downsized my deodorant but the new bottle actually looked larger).

    But alas, it is sometimes hard to buy a competitor’s product as they do the exact same thing.

    I’m waiting for them to start advertising how they are downsizing certain foods to help fight obesity….

    Comment by James — May 21, 2012 @ 10:26 am
  3. You neglected to note that the Bounty pack on the left is “Select-A-Size”. There are usually more sheets in a select-a-size pack. Square footage is the way to measure what you are actually buying. Also, is the UPC the same? Bounty has so many varieties. The UPC would be needed to confirm these are the same item.

    Edgar replies: Leann, BOTH packages are “Select-A-Size”. I would never compare unlike items.

    Comment by Leeann — May 21, 2012 @ 10:40 am
  4. I see the “Select-A-Size” on the middle-right of the left image, and to the bottom of the “33%” on the top left of the right image. What are the square footages on these two rolls? The image makes this text too small to make out.

    Edgar replies: The one on the left, the old one is 110.9 sq. feet, and the new one on the right is 101.7 square feet.

    Comment by Derlin — May 21, 2012 @ 1:58 pm
  5. Sometimes downsizing has its humorous moments, such as when one company points out a similar product’s change in size. I recently was comparing peanut butter prices and noticed that Jif had its weight (18 oz) circled in red, with words stating it was still the same size, unlike other brands. Sure enough, Skippy and Planters had both downsized to 16.3 oz. Thanks for the tip-off, Jif!

    Ritz crackers has also downsized. The company gave away the downsizing themselves, with their inside packaging. Each sleeve of crackers was empty for about two inches at one end. At first, I thought it was a fluke–one sleeve just hadn’t been properly filled. But all the sleeves were like that and when I looked at the box, it was only then I noticed they’d downsized from 16 oz to 15.1 oz. The box still looked the same.


    Comment by Jamie — May 21, 2012 @ 4:14 pm
  6. None of us like downsizing. But at least the Planters container appears to be smaller in height, meaning they aren’t *also* trying to fool us by putting less product in the same sized container as before.

    Comment by Richard — May 21, 2012 @ 7:02 pm
  7. The only reason for the downsizing is the general stupidity of the average consumer. If the producer kept the volume the same while raising prices accordingly, the average consumer (unable to do the math even with unit prices shown on many store shelves) would continue to purchase a lesser priced package. Thus the companies are forced to play to the least common denominator and keep prices steady while lowering volume to maintain profits. We are our own worst enemies in the price wars.

    Comment by PCnotPC — May 21, 2012 @ 11:01 pm
  8. Well Jamie I think that Ritz crackers has so many boxes left over for the 16oz size that all they needed to do what a simple text change on the box for the new size.

    Tropicana orange juice had 64oz of juice and then went down to 59oz, but they were in the same cardboard carton.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — May 22, 2012 @ 11:54 am
  9. About the Ritz packaging, I thought there were already laws in place that would not allow manufacturers to use larger packages than required to try to fool customers. If Ritz uses the exact same boxes but has less product this would be in violation.

    Comment by John — May 25, 2012 @ 4:14 pm
  10. The downsizing might be expected to a certain degree in this economy. What really gets me is that the companies are basically LYING about doing it and getting away with it. How about a little transparency here, companies ???? Cut the B.S. and stop the misleading blurbs on the packages.

    Comment by Joyce — May 28, 2012 @ 7:39 am
  11. A “p.s.” to my comment above — a few months ago I bought a box of Mueller’s macaroni, supposedly on sale, at my local supermarket. The box was pretty big, the size of a 16 oz. box of other macaroni brands. The box said “NEW 6 Servings !” — neglecting to point out that comparable brands provide 8 servings (at 2 oz. per person). Later, when I opened it, I saw that the box was only half full and but it was (deceptively) substantially larger than the 16 ounce box I had of store-brand macaroni. I guess the moral of the story is BUYER BEWARE…and check the actual ounce weight before falling for splashy announcements on the box.

    Comment by Joyce — May 28, 2012 @ 8:28 am
  12. Sadly, even store brands have gotten into downsizing. After national brands downsized their mayonaisse and salad dressing to 30 ounces from 32, not long after store brands were also 30 ounces per jar.

    Comment by Patrick Southam — May 31, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

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