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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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.

• • •

January 28, 2013

More Groceries Downsize – Part 1 (2013)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

Confession: the following items downsized in 2012, but we did not get a chance to feature them all on these pages last year.


Kraft BBQ sauce

The old reliable 18 ounce bottle of Kraft barbecue sauce dropped in size by one-half an ounce. Thanks to John O. for the tip on Kraft.


Old Spice

We lost a quarter of an ounce in the large size Old Spice deodorant sticks. The top of the stick says “Same Palm Tree, New Look,” but they somehow omitted that they were also giving the customer less. Should we say that stinks?


Minute Maid

Following the lead of other big brands of orange juice, Minute Maid also downsized its punch drinks by a full five ounces. Less sugar for the kids, just as well.


Hefty bags

This is not what you think. In a twist, the makers of Hefty bags UPsized their 44-count tall kitchen bags to 50-count, but only at Target (and they kept the price the same).

As we always say, downsizing is a sneaky way to raise the price of products because you are getting less for your money, and you may not realize it unless you scrutinize the fine print on the package .

• • •

September 17, 2012

Here We Downsize Again – Part 3 (2012)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

Last week, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer covered the issue of downsized grocery products spotlighting those discovered by MrConsumer and Mouse Print* readers (see their pictures). Click the picture below to view the video:

ABC World News

Here are some more examples:


Raisin Bran

Kellogg’s recently reduced the sizes of its raisin bran cereal. In this case, it went from 15 oz. to 13.7 oz., but miraculously, it still has two scoops of raisins. (They must be using smaller scoops.)



Kashi Strawberry Fields cereal recently downsized from 10.4 ounces to 10.3 ounces. Big deal, you say. But wait, there’s more, as Ron Popeil would say. A quick look at the nutrition label reveals that the old box gave you nine one-cup servings of cereal, but the new one only gives you five cups. What happened? They reformulated the product by adding more whole grains. That made the flakes denser and heavier. And they are still charging $4.59 a box even though you are getting over 40% fewer servings. Thanks to Jenn Z. for the tip on Kashi.



Duncan Hines

Both Pillsbury and Duncan Hines followed Betty Crocker’s lead (which we reported on here) and downsized their 18.25 ounce cake mixes. They still claim to make 24 cupcakes and the same size cakes, but as our Pillsbury test on ABC revealed, there was barely enough batter for 21.

As the price for raw materials and transportation continues to go up, manufacturers will continue to downsize their products. It is up to us to catch their packaging shenanigans, because they certainly are not going to tell us “look smaller size” or “look, sneaky price increase.”

• • •

July 30, 2012

Here We Downsize Again – Part 2 (2012)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:08 am

As prices for raw ingredients go up, package sizes go down. Here are a few of the latest examples of products which have been downsized.


Maxwell House

The really big container went from 34.5 ounces (270 cups) down to 30.6 ounces (240 cups) — a loss of 30 cups-worth per container. Thanks to Mouse Print* reader Karl K. for the tip.


Betty Crocker

Betty Crocker has downsized many of their cake mixes from the familiar 18.25 ounces to only 15.25 ounces. Funny thing, however, the package still says it makes two eight-inch rounds, but the nutrition label says there are only 10 servings in the new package rather than the old 12. Thanks to Terry for the lead on Betty Crocker.



Old reliable Nathan’s, the best-tasting frankfurter you can buy (says MrConsumer), still gives you eight “bigger than a bun” hot dogs in a package, but each one has gotten skinnier. The pound package is now just 14 ounces.

As with most cases of downsized products, you are paying the same price, but getting less. That is a sneaky way to essentially raise prices.

• • •

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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