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September 13, 2010

Scott Toilet Paper: Here We Shrink Again

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:28 am

In the continuing retail race to shrink the size of a sheet of toilet paper to that of a postage stamp, Scott 1000 sheet rolls have been downsized again.

Exactly four years ago, we reported on Scott shortening each sheet on the roll from 4 inches to 3.7 inches.

Now, they are making each sheet narrower too.

*MOUSE PRINT:

It went from a full 4.5 inches wide to just 4.1 inches wide. A four pack now has almost 42 square feet less paper — a reduction of nine percent.

When the company was asked why they narrowed each sheet, a customer service representative replied:

This makes Scott “comparable with other brands on the market shelf” … and that there was “a slight improvement to make it thicker.”

How much thicker are the sheets now? Probably not too much as the new package weighs a full five ounces less than the old one.

Scott has a long history of downsizing its 1000 sheet rolls: 

Original: 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches

Pre-2006: 4.5 inches by 4.0 inches

9/2006: 4.5 inches by 3.7 inches

9/2010: 4.1 inches by 3.7 inches

The cumulative effect on consumers of all this downsizing is significant. Today’s roll is a full 25% smaller than the original.  Maybe they need to rename the product Scott 750.

As with all products that are downsized inconspicuously, it is a sneaky way to pass on a price increase because the customer is paying the same price, but getting less.

Thanks to eagle-eyed Mouse Print* reader Karen S. for this submission.

• • •

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.

• • •
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