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April 8, 2013

When the Chips are Down(sized)…

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:48 am

Snacking just got more expensive. Various brands of popular snacks like potato chips and tortilla chips have just been downsized. In these cases, the price remained the same, but the new packages contain less. In other words, it is a hidden increase. On the bright side, you also get fewer calories per package.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lays

Here, regular Lay’s potato chips were reduced by half an ounce. While a half ounce may seem negligible, multiply that by millions of bags, and Frito-Lay has saved a fortune.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Doritios

Here too, the company lopped-off half an ounce per bag. And they did the same thing to some of their other brands and varieties.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ruffles

Lays Wavy

What is particularly deceptive about the downsizing of both Lay’s and Doritos is that the net weight statement is virtually at the bottom of the bag, just above the seam. When these bags sit on the store shelf, the bottom is compressed, and the net weight cannot be seen. Even picking up the bag, often the seam gets folded over the net weight statement, at least partially obscuring it. Could this just be careless placement of the disclosure by Frito-Lay or something more sinister? And what about that light colored font on the new Doritos bag? It is almost illegible.

Lays

Frito-Lay did not respond to a request to comment on their recent downsizing. Thanks to Richard G. for the tip on the chips.

Lastly, not to be outdone, Kellogg’s has downsized its chips too.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Pringles Orig      Pringles

For the product on the right, there’s another example of a company using a non-contrasting typeface to disclose the net weight of the product.

Thanks to Christian M. for the Pringles tip.

• • •

12 Comments

  1. This is annoying. I buy the same amount of food regardless of the price so in the end I will have to buy more packages to get the same amount I used to. I actually purchase Lays – Wavy chips so this downsize announcement affects me directly.

    Luckily for me, I started paying attention to price per weight and price per calorie so that I am not duped when those values change and I can optimize the value of the products that I prefer to buy.

    If I had picture evidence I would have submitted to Mr. Consumer that many bread manufacturers have started to reduce the weight of their bread packages. Aunt Millie’s Hearth bread has my preferred honey and oat bread, but ever since they reduced the number of slices from 16 to 15 per package I have been trying out other breads. Any bread package with less than 16 slices seems uneconomical to me. Pepperidge Farm and Brownberry also have packages with 15 or 17 slices that used to be 16 or 18 slices.

    I don’t want to buy an uneven number of bread slices, and I would prefer to buy more than 16 per package (for freezer storage).

    Comment by Wayne R — April 8, 2013 @ 9:09 am
  2. Companies should be required to put NEW REDUCED SIZE on their new packaging! On the bright side, I quit eating chips. They are bad for you!

    Comment by BJ — April 8, 2013 @ 10:12 am
  3. Considering the amount of genetically modified organisms in those C.R.A.P. (Calorie Rich And Processed) snacks, downsizing is NOT a bad thing!

    Comment by Marva — April 8, 2013 @ 11:34 am
  4. I will have to look at the Pringles boxes next time I go to a grocery store…

    The weight on the potato chip bags are always at the very bottom of the bag. Why put it up on top where people can see it when you can put it on the bottom and hope the people do not see a weight change.

    I noticed something odd was up when the Lays do Us Flavor contest chips came out. I wanted to try them out and saw the bags of chips were a half ounce less than other lays chips with seasoning on them. I thought it was just a contest only thing. Then I saw the first bag of flavored potato chips with the Try all 3 logo on it looking a tiny but smaller than regular bag. Checked the weight and saw the weight change.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — April 8, 2013 @ 3:04 pm
  5. Frito-Lay is replacing its ‘Family Size’ bags of chips with ‘Party Size’.

    The only difference is that ‘Party Size’ is the downsized version.

    Comment by Bearcat44 — April 8, 2013 @ 4:39 pm
  6. Today at the Rite Aid store I noticed that the so called mega roll of Scott Extra soft bathroom tissue has been reduced by 69 sheets per roll and now it only has 400 sheets. Price has gone up by about a dollar for the 12 pack, compared to the old product. I had some extra bucks reward from Rite Aid, so I wanted to buy the 12 pack, because it would have come almost for free, but I realized that with the downsize I would end up getting only about 10 of the old rolls, so I got annoyed and didn’t buy anything.

    Comment by Norma Stytz — April 8, 2013 @ 8:27 pm
  7. An over 10% reduction in a roll!?!?! How can you not miss that change. I would fully be annoyed. I know a while ago the Charmin chopped off 11 sheets of the Red labeled rolls.

    I say I need more toilet paper sheets, NOT LESS..

    Comment by Richard Ginn — April 9, 2013 @ 1:12 pm
  8. When will a manufacturer take the lead and do the opposite…. Upsize a product and charge us less….

    Comment by Scott KIng — April 10, 2013 @ 3:05 pm
  9. I’ve seen that happen (a product get upsized.) The change isn’t described in mouseprint though. It’s typically in a large banner near the top of the product.

    It’s my suspicion that these things are cyclical. Otherwise we’d all be buying 0.004 oz bags of snacks by now. Step 1, downsize. Step 2, raise price. Step 3, upsize.

    Comment by Marc K — April 10, 2013 @ 10:22 pm
  10. With Lay’s potato chips at least, this is not actually a new thing. I’ve noted for many years that they go through a cycle where they start out at 13 or 14 oz., then drop it by a half-ounce at a time, and sometimes as little as a quarter-ounce, maybe once every year or so, leaving the price the same. It eventually goes down to 10 oz. or so, then the next change is back up to the higher end of the weight range, which is when they finally raise the price “Because look, so much more!”

    It has to be at least twenty years since I first noted this cycle. Sneaky, but at least they have put the weight back on every three or four years. Let’s hope they plan to continue.

    I wish Ivory soap would put the weight back on. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single time I open one of their reduced-width bars now, which still feels completely wrong a year after they switched, I mutter the uncouth plural of the alimentary canal’s southern terminus. I only wish they could hear me.

    In Lay’s case, it’s an odd down and up scheme to sort of mask the eventual price increases, but in the case of Ivory, I think it was the shipping weight they were going after, not the rising costs of production — I mean, what can a bar cost to manufacture? Not even a dime, I’d wager.

    Comment by Mike Harney — April 13, 2013 @ 2:38 am
  11. Lay’s also gives you less for their reduced salt chips. Kettle penalizes you for choosing their reduced fat chips by 1/2 oz versus the FAT chips. Glade aerosol use to be 11 oz, then 9, now it is 8 oz. Kleenex has so many sizes, it takes up as much shelf space as cereals. Family size use to be 260 tissues, now 220. “Regular” was 200, now 184.

    Comment by Gerry Pong — April 15, 2013 @ 2:02 pm
  12. I just bought my first bag of Lay’s in years. It’s 9.5oz (269.3g)! It was the ‘classic BLT’ flavor.
    Does this indicate that they’ve gone through another downsizing?

    Comment by Kurt — April 30, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

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