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December 6, 2010

More Products Downsized

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:31 am

Earlier this year, Tropicana downsized it half gallons of orange juice. They went from 64 ounces to 59 ounces, but the container appeared to remain the same size.

Just last month, Tropicana’s big competitor, Florida’s Natural followed suit:

*MOUSE PRINT:

The package is a barely noticeable 1/4″ shorter, but contains five ounces less than previously.

When asked by Mouse Print* why their product was downsized, the company responded:

“As I hope you are aware, our major competitors had all previously made the switch. Although we had tried to maintain the 64 ounce size, we were at a big cost disadvantage. Consumers still bought the lower ounce cartons of our competitors, so to remain viable in the juice business, we had to follow suit.

As a company owned by farmers, we understand offering value to our customers. We have no control over the retail price supermarkets charge for our product. With that in mind, we will offer our 59 ounce features at a lower promotional cost, compared to the features usually run on the 64 ounce product.”


Another item that was downsized and discovered earlier in the year was Ivory Dishwashing Liquid.

*MOUSE PRINT:

When asked why the change, P&G responded:

” I’m sorry to hear that you have noticed the downsize in our bottles of Ivory Dish Soap. In the Fall of 2009, Ivory downsized our bottles because our raw materials went up and instead of charging more to the stores to handle our products we changed the size of the bottles. “

Thanks to Paul P. for the photo. Incidentally, he says the price stayed the same at about $2.42.



Cheryl from Massachusetts submitted this picture of Pastene Wine Vinegar which was downsized from a full quart to just 25.4 ounces, but the new bottle was taller than the old one. She poured the new contents into the old bottle to demonstrate just how much vinegar was actually removed.

*MOUSE PRINT:


Lastly, Jerri Q. was dismayed to find her Hill Bros. coffee had been substantially downsized, while the price stayed the same.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Thanks to all the contributors who found these examples of downsized products.  As we always say, downsizing is a sneaky way to pass on a price increase.

• • •

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.

• • •
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