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July 19, 2010

Safeway Upsizes Ice Cream!

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:35 am

For the past five years, ice cream manufacturers have been inconspicuously downsizing their containers of ice cream. What started out as the standard half gallon, became 56 ounces, and then went down to 48 ounces:

Now, believe it or not, one brand has decided to UPSIZE its containers back to the original half gallon size.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Funny how they very clearly call your attention to the fact that the product is now larger, but when containers were downsized, manufacturers did not label them, “Look — New Smaller Size”.

Of course, today’s half gallon is priced higher than the original.

Thanks to some eagle-eyed employees of the USDA for this submission.

• • •

May 31, 2010

Tropicana Inconspicuously Downsizes Half Gallons of OJ

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:32 am

Can you tell the difference between these two cartons of Tropicana orange juice?

To the naked eye, they look identical but for one small thing tucked into the bottom right hand corner of the carton.

*MOUSE PRINT:

There is now five ounces less in the half gallon carton — just 59 ounces. One can’t peek inside to verify that it is not filled up as much as the old cartons, but that appears to be the case. To see if there really was less in the new carton, we weighed them contents and all to see if the new container was lighter.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sure enough, the new container plus its contents weighs over a quarter of a pound less.

Mouse Print* asked the company why it downsized, and whether they were just underfilling the old containers to achieve a 5 ounce savings.  A customer service representative responded:

“Reducing our 64 ounce carton to a 59 ounce carton wasn’t a decision we took lightly. As you probably have heard, the Florida citrus industry has suffered the most devastating winter freeze and one of the smallest orange crops in 20 years. When the supply of oranges goes down the price goes up which impacts our costs. Instead of raising prices, we chose to slightly reduce the amount of juice and maintain the price. Our consumer research shows that most shoppers, when given a choice between a price increase or slightly less contents, prefer to hold the line on prices.”

You will notice that the second question about underfilling the new containers was not answered.

The question now becomes how long it will be before Tropicana’s competitors downsize their half gallons too.

• • •

May 24, 2010

Kraft Miracle Whip and Mayonnaise Downsized

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:16 am

Don’t look now, but quart jars of Kraft Miracle Whip are no longer 32 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

And, Kraft mayonnaise has similarly shrunk to 30 ounces too.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Kraft held out for almost four years, resisting the temptation to downsize to 30 ounces like its competitors did starting in 2006. (See our old story about Hellmann’s/Best Food mayonnaise.) Why did Kraft finally downsize? Presumably it was not so they could afford to distribute those two little Miracle Whip samples in some of yesterday’s home delivered Sunday newspapers.

According to a customer relations representative, they wanted to “consolidate and reduce packaging” because that is good for the environment, and they wanted to be able to offer the product at the “best affordable price.” There is nothing like a thoughtful, environmentally conscious company, is there?

More formally, a spokesperson from Kraft corporate affairs said, in part:

“Across our Miracle Whip line we recently did a broad overhaul of our packages and sizes.  We do this periodically to make sure we’re offering the best possible mix of product sizes and prices.  Among the things we consider are how to make them as efficiently as we can while also offering sizes that work for our consumers and our various customers’ store shelving.

 As a result, we have totally eliminated some package sizes of Miracle Whip.  And in some cases we have slightly decreased or slightly increased the size of our packages.  In general, the changes we made are in keeping with what has already occurred in the rest of the category.”

No matter how you spin it, consumers are paying the same price but getting less.  In my book (or blog), that’s a backdoor price increase.

• • •

December 14, 2009

Downsized Products 2009 — Part 2

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:01 am

The parade of downsized items continues with the category that reputedly created the concept of shrinking products — candy bars. An alert Mouse Print* reader  noticed that his favorite “king size” Snickers bar was now nearly half an ounce lighter. Scouring the shelves of candy sellers, we were able to find both the old and the new products.

*MOUSE PRINT:

snickersm

Unless you read the net weight statement, you would never know the product had shrunk, because it is the same length.

Here are some other examples of products that were discovered to have been downsized in 2009:

*MOUSE PRINT:

freshexpressm

crackerb

lays1416mp

ruffies

Thanks to the eagle-eyed Mouse Print* readers who spotted some of these net weight changes.

• • •

April 13, 2009

Quiznos: Get Less for Less

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:24 am

Last year, Quiznos advertised their large deli favorites sandwiches for only $5 for a limited time in a series of commercials showing hungry people eating five dollar bills.  The commercial said that these sandwiches had more meat than comparable Subway footlong subs, and the ad ends with the announcer saying “get more meat.” More recently, Quiznos has been advertising “new lower prices” and “love what you eat for less.”

quiznosad

A regular Mouse Print* reader recently wrote that it was his observation that during the $5 subs promotion, the “large” sandwiches seemed smaller than previously.  He asked a store employee about the tuna subs, and was told they were now putting 2-1/2 scoops of tuna in them instead of the old three scoops.

Mouse Print* made three contacts with Quiznos PR people to find out if their “large” sandwiches had been downsized, but did not receive an answer. Poking around online, however, the answer seems to be yes.  Here are the nutrition statements for various Quiznos sandwiches from November 2007, when the company first began to publish such information and several months before the promotion of their $5 subs:

*MOUSE PRINT:
 

quiznosold

And here is the current nutrition statement for these same sandwiches cobbled together from their website. Note the changes in the calories column:

*MOUSE PRINT:

quiznosnew2

You will note that the total calories dropped by about 15%, old versus new.  (Some would say that is a good thing since no single sandwich should contain a day’s worth of fat and calories.)

Clearly the company appears to have downsized its sandwiches.  Whether that was done so they could advertise  lower prices and make the public think they were getting a bargain, is unclear.  We can only take an educated guess.

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