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March 3, 2014

Tide Detergent Double Downsizes AND Raises Prices

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

  Procter & Gamble recently decided to make certain varieties of Tide detergent more costly for shoppers. Based on a Wall Street Journal story, the company appears to be raising prices an unheard of three ways simultaneously.

It seems to be passing on a straight list price increase of about 13% to retailers on Tide+ products. But it is also downsizing the product AND apparently diluting it (or making you use more).

Note to readers: We use the words “seems to,” “apparently” and “appears to” because P&G has used “pr-speak” (a.k.a. “spin”) in response to very pointed questions about these changes, as noted at the end of this story.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

Tide+ varieties with special scents, fabric softener, etc. are being downsized from 100 ounce jugs to 92 ounces — an 8% drop in contents.

But, not content to raise the price AND put less product in each bottle, you are now going to get fewer loads per bottle than even an 8% drop in contents would work out to.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

The traditional 100-ounce bottle was enough for 60 loads according to the package, while the new 92-ounce product only provides 48 loads. So an 8% drop in contents somehow translates into a 20% drop in the number washes you get. Huh?

That sounds like P&G is somehow diluting the product and/or making you use more per load. A look at the back of the bottle reveals the secret.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

According to the old bottle, you could get 60 medium-size loads of wash done by filling the cap to line 1. With the new bottle, you are instructed to fill the cap to line 2 for the same medium load and advised you will only get 48 such loads when used this way. Being told we have to use more to get the same job done suggests that the product has been diluted. Alternatively, we are simply being told to use more so we finish up the bottle faster. Medium load users in fact will be using more detergent per load if they follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, but large load users will be using the same amount. (Line 3 in the new cap is where line 2 was in the old.)

We asked P&G to explain these changes with very explicit, pointed questions. Here is how the company responded:

*MOUSE PRINT:

1. Why is Tide downsizing from 100 ounce to 92 ounce jugs?

With the introduction of the new Tide Plus Collection, we have standardized the load sizes across variants (previously there were 5 differing load designations per same size bottle based on the variant) to make shopping the line easier.

2. Are you in fact also raising the price to retailers of Tide+ products? If so, by an average of about how much?

I cannot share our pricing strategies. The significant performance innovation behind this new introduction will carry an average 13% list price increase (on a cost per load basis) but it is important to note that it will be retailers that set the price that consumers pay.

3. How is it that an 8% drop in contents (from 100 ounces to 92 ounces) results in a 20% drop in loads in each bottle (60 loads down to 48)?

This is not a direct correlation; we have upgraded the formulas which has impacted dosing.

4. Is the product the same formula, for Tide+ Febreze, for example, in both the 100 ounce and new 92 ounce size?

We are bringing significant innovation behind the launch of The Tide Plus Collection, providing a one wash wow with even more of the performance and fabric care benefits consumers expect from Tide

5. Have you diluted the product necessitating having to use more, or are you just telling consumers to use more than before for the same size load? (Old instructions: fill to line 1 for medium loads; new instructions: fill to line 2 for medium loads.)

We have updated the usage to align with the formulation and the increasing size of wash loads. — P&G Fabric Care Communications/Corporate Media Relations

The bottom line is this: Getting less detergent in the bottle, having to use more product per load, and paying a higher price at the store means consumers are really being taken to the cleaners.

• • •

January 20, 2014

Tropicana Farmstand Fruit/Veggie Juice Surprises

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

  Tropicana has a new juice on the market called Farmstand. It is a “100% fruit and vegetable juice” which the company says provides one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables in every eight-ounce glass.

It comes in such luscious-sounding flavors as Peach Mango, Strawberry Banana, and Pomegranate Blueberry.

Tropicana Farmstand

When looking at the ingredients statement, it may come as a surprise that there is not a lot of strawberry or banana in the product above.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tropicana Farmstand

Besides water, the primary ingredient is sweet potato juice. Sweet potato juice? Yep. And it has more grape, apple and carrot juice than either strawberry or banana.

Tropicana’s other two Farmstand varieties also are composed primarily of water and sweet potato juice, with the product’s named fruits way down the list of ingredients.

For all MrConsumer knows, these juices are wonderfully tasty compared to the V8s of the world. But funny how the primary ingredient — sweet potato — is almost hidden and not clearly identifiable on both the product label and in their display advertising.

• • •

January 13, 2014

Burger King’s Satisfries’ Fat and Calorie Reduction Claims Unsatisfrying

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:00 am

  With great fanfare, Burger King recently introduced “Satisfries” — a new crinkle-cut french fry that it claims is much lower in fat and calories:


Satisfries

And they are also running commercials making the same claims:



If you look a little closer, you will see there is one tiny asterisk after the 40% less fat claim, and two asterisks after the 30% less [sic] calories claim. The fine print in the commercial is virtually unreadable.

*MOUSE PRINT:

BK disclaimer

They are not actually comparing the new Satisfries to their own regular fries as most people would believe, but rather to McDonald’s regular fries.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Burger King
BK fries nutrition

McDonald’s
Mcd's Fries

While Burger King’s claims are roughly mathematically correct when you compare equal size portions of their Satisfries to McDonald’s regular fries, BK’s claims exaggerate the calorie and fat reductions when you compare the actual sizes of products you can buy in each restaurant.

Comparing the actual smallest portion you can buy of BK’s Satisfries, which weighs 87 grams, with McDonald’s small size fries which weighs only 71 grams, the BK Satisfries has 27% less fat (not 40% less) and 17% fewer calories (not 30%).

But how do Satisfries compare to BK’s own regular fries, since most people hearing the claim will believe that is the comparison being made?

When you compare the smallest size of BK’s Satisfries (87 grams) with their own virtually equal-sized regular fries (89 grams), Satisfies are only 20% less fatty (not the 40% seemingly claimed), and have 21% fewer calories, not 30%.

• • •

December 23, 2013

McCormick Black Pepper — An Important Source of Antioxidants?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will be published on Monday, January 6, 2014 (our trusty mouse needs time off to hunt for his annual supply of dairy-free cheese substitute since unfortunately he is lactose intolerant).



McCormick ran a series of commercials touting the health benefits of its spices. (We reported on their health claims for cinnamon a while back here.)

One commercial proclaims, using words to the effect that “sprinkling black pepper on scambled eggs is an important source of antioxidants”.

Looking on their website, the claim is even made more specific:

Wow, more antioxidants than a 1/2 cup serving of watermelon. Not so fast.

According to the FDA, watermelon is not one of those fruits particularly dense with vitamin C (a key antioxidant).

*MOUSE PRINT:

A serving size is defined as two cups, and contains 25% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. If you wanted to get the equivalent boost of vitamin C from black pepper, you would have to sprinkle about a full teaspoon of pepper on your eggs. Ha choooooo. The recommended 1/4 teaspoon that McCormick suggests that you sprinkle on eggs will only provide you with 6.25% of your daily requirement of vitamin C according to them. Hardly something to boast about as a boost of antioxidants. As noted in the comments (thanks, Leeann), there are other antioxidants in watermelon too, but they are in very small amounts.

*MOUSE PRINT:

NutritionData.com suggests that even a full teaspoon of black pepper is not particularly nutrient-rich (but not all nutrients are listed on nutrition facts labels).

black pepper

In an interview with Ad Age, the company explained their advertising campaign:

The goal is to reach “people who maybe weren’t superinvolved cooks … but were still interested in healthy eating,” said Jill Pratt, VP-marketing for consumer products. The company looked at some common meals “and found a way to make them a little bit healthier by amping up the antioxidants in them,” she said.

No matter how you spin it, black pepper is NOT an important source of antioxidants in your diet based on the amount of pepper you might actually use to spice up an individual serving.

• • •

December 9, 2013

Holy Sheets: Paper Towel Size Madness

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

Have you shopped for paper towels lately? It seems that these paper manufacturers have conspired to confuse customers by putting crazy size comparisons on each package.

Four rolls of this is equal to eight rolls of that. Eight “giant” rolls are equal to 12 “regular” rolls. Six “mega” rolls are equal to eight regular rolls, but six “big” rolls are also equal to eight regular rolls, and six “huge” rolls are equal to 15 regular ones. Twelve “giant” rolls are equal 18 regular rolls, but 12 “big” rolls are equal to only 16 regular ones.

Doesn’t this drive you crazy? Why don’t they simply say in big letters (as opposed to the tiny print they use now ) exactly how many sheets are on each roll so you know what you are really buying.

*MOUSE PRINT:

sheets

• • •
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