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June 9, 2014

To Increase Profits, Product Makers Just Add Water!

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:49 am

  We all know that product downsizing occurs when some amount of the product has been removed from the package inconspicuously, but the price remains the same.

A close relative to product downsizing is what we call “product dilution.” The product is formulated or reformulated in such a manner as to make it less expensive to manufacture.

Exhibit A:

A classic example is Tropicana’s “Trop50” drink that boasts 50% less sugar and calories. How did they accomplish this? It only has 42% juice and the rest is water and flavoring.

Exhibit B:

And if you have poked around the meat counter lately, some whole chickens and boneless chicken breasts have been plumped up with up to 15% of “broth” (aka water). [Note how "fifteen percent" is spelled out to make it less obvious at a glance.]

*MOUSE PRINT:

chicken broth

Exhibit C:

Procter & Gamble recently has been “diluting” some of their products to come out with a new “value” line. Witness the introduction of Charmin Basic and Bounty Basic, a cheaper single-ply product compared to regular two-ply rolls. And then there is the new Tide detergent in the yellow bottle. Priced less expensively than traditional Tide and presumably with a less effective formulation, it is designed to complete with other bargain detergents.

Exhibit D:

*MOUSE PRINT:

DawnAnd P&G’s newest product, Dawn “Simply Clean” is just beginning to hit store shelves. It caught regular Mouse Print* reader Tim B. unaware, who bought a bottle of the new stuff thinking it was regular Dawn Ultra.

“I didn’t notice the label until I went to use the soap. Very watery and very runny. As expected, it does not perform as well as the Ultra so I have to use more. My problem when I shop, is I expect things to remain the same. And these companies continue to get me. Gwaltney bacon, I purchased a pack of that only to discover I got 12 ounces instead of 16. Anitfreeze that was “pre-diluted” which means I bought a half gallon of water and half gallon of anti-freeze. Packaged meat with “water added”. And now “Non-Concentrated ” Dawn, AKA more water added. I thought the “Simply Clean” was just a new slogan.

Sad part is years ago, companies would improve their product to get you to buy it. Now it seems everything is going the other direction, to make cheaper products.”

Our intrepid consumer is a technician by trade, so he decided to test both old and new Dawn to try to determine how much the new non-concentrated Dawn had been watered down. The old one was thick and gloppy, while the new one was much thinner. In fact, he says the new product only has one-third the “solids” as the old one.

So how do you feel about “product dilution?” Sound off in the comments.

• • •

June 2, 2014

For Once, The Small Print Giveth

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:37 am

  We have lamented for years that “the big print giveth, and the small print taketh away.” For once recently, the opposite was true.

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a college food delivery service issued this coupon offering students 10% off:

cindodemayo15

In a twist, however, it included some very unusual and unexpected fine print.

*MOUSE PRINT:

“So you’re one of those people who have [sic] to read all the rules and stipulations. You know what we think about that? We think that’s awesome. On the other hand, we think you should probably relax. … we think you deserve an even bigger discount for listening to us ramble. Try “TIMETORELAX” for 15% off any order today.”

So, as a reward for reading the fine print, this service was upping the discount to 15%.

How many people actually read the fine print and got the bigger discount? According to Business Insider, only 12%.

• • •

May 19, 2014

Those Devilish Keebler Elves Downsize Some Cookies

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:37 am

 Welcome ABC World News viewers!

Leave it to the Keebler elves to come up with a devilishly clever way to downsize their chocolate chip cookies so that it might go unnoticed by shoppers.

Exhibit A:

Keebler

The above picture was the traditional package of Chips Deluxe cookies until last fall. Then the company decided to refresh the look of their entire line and came out with new yellow packaging.

Exhibit B:

keebler2m

Savvy shoppers know when they see “new and improved” or “new look” on a package that could be a clue that the product has been downsized. In this case, however, Keebler kept the net weight of Chips Deluxe cookies the same — 13.3 ounces.

Then, not long thereafter, the company decided to downsize a few of their cookie varieties as inconspicuously as possible.

Exhibit C:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Keebler

Those clever elves took out two to three cookies from each package, reducing the contents from 13.3 ounces to 11.6 ounces, but retaining the same “New Look” packaging. Even the savviest of shoppers who checked the package when they first introduced the “New Look” packaging would ever think to check again the next time they bought the item to see if it had been subsequently downsized.

Mouse Print* asked Kellogg’s, the maker of Keebler cookies, some very pointed questions about why they downsized, and whether they realized that maintaining the banner “New Look, Same Great Taste” after they downsized the product could easily mislead consumers into believing that only the packaging changed.

The company responded:

“As commodity prices and other costs increase, Kellogg occasionally adjusts package sizes and wholesale prices, and we offer a range of product sizes to meet differing consumer preferences.” –Keebler Media Hotline

Inconspicuously downsizing a product continues to be a sneaky way to pass on a price increase in the hopes that most shoppers won’t notice.

• • •

May 12, 2014

Blue Buffalo: “Never has Chicken/Poultry By-Product Meals” ?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:32 am

  Blue Buffalo, a maker of premium pet food, proclaims in advertising that meat is “always” the first ingredients in its products and it “never” has chicken/poultry by-product meals. It even invites consumers to compare their favorite brand to Blue Buffalo.

Blue Buffalo

Never say never, just in case a competitor like Purina decides to have your products tested to see if the claims are true. And that is exactly what Purina did, using an independent lab to test Blue Buffalo products.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Blue Buffalo

And after getting the results, Purina filed sued (see complaint) last week against Blue Buffalo for false advertising and product disparagement. And they set up a website to tell the world about it.

While Purina says they tested Blue Buffalo products purchased from retail stores on the East and West coasts, they didn’t say how many products were tested in total. On the issue of whether Blue Buffalo contained any chicken by-products in the kibble itself, Purina seems to have only found three bags that did.

We asked Purina how many bags they actually purchased and tested, but their PR person did not return our call.

For its part, the founder of Blue Buffalo said, “We categorically deny all of these false allegations and will aggressively defend the integrity of our brand and our products.”

Thanks to Richard G. for the tip about this story.

• • •

April 28, 2014

Where’s the Beef err… Pomegranate Juice?

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

 We’ve done a number of stories about juice products that look like one type of juice, but really are primarily another.

Here’s another egregious example, Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry:

Minute Maid

While the company does call this a juice blend, its primary ingredients are neither pomegranate nor blueberry juice.

*Mouse Print:

Minute Miad

Worse than the not-very-surprising fact that apple juice is the primary ingredient, is the actual amount of pomegranate and blueberry juices in the bottle.

According to a lawsuit by Pom Wonderful (not exactly a paragon of straight talk about its own brand of pomegranate juice), the actual amount of pomegranate juice and blueberry juice is tiny:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Coca-Cola’s “Pomegranate Blueberry” product contains only 0.3% pomegranate juice and 0.2% blueberry juice; it consists primarily of (less expensive and less desirable) apple and grape juices, which amount to over 99% of the juice.

What? Just one-half of one-percent of the primary ingredients featured on the front of the bottle? According to Pom’s lawyer, that is about one teaspoon in half a gallon of juice.

It seems to us that Minute Maid left out the key component of this beverage from their ingredients list: baloney!

• • •
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