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Hellmann’s Mayo: Introduces the 30 oz. Quart*

hellmans smallSome things always come in quarts: milk, motor oil, and mayonnaise, for example. You don’t have to look at the net weight statement, because a quart is 32 ounces, and that is what you always get.

Next time you go to the supermarket and pick up a quart-size jar of Hellmann’s (in the east) and probably Best Foods (in the west), you are going to be in for a little surprise.

*MOUSE PRINT:  The net weight statement now reads “30 oz.” instead of 32.

While the size change is apparent looking at the old and new jars side by side, you don’t have that comparison in the store. You see a dozen identical jars that look like the regular quart jar, and priced like the regular quart jar. You grab one, and you get snookered because they all have two ounces less in them.

All mayonnaise has come in quart jars for decades. Unlike tuna fish that has been downsized multiple times, this is the first time it has happened to mayonnaise. That’s what makes it so surprising, and why it has gone virtually unnoticed.

Why did Unilever Bestfoods do this?  Here’s what customer service said:

“At Unilever Bestfoods we have always taken great pride in offering the highest quality products at reasonable and fair prices.

Recently, inflationary pressures have brought about by the increased costs of raw materials. Rather than raise our prices, we chose to slightly reduce the size of the 32 oz quart and 16 oz pint. This is the first time in over three years that we have had to increase costs to our consumers.”

As with other categories of items that have been downsized, it is a sneaky way to pass on a price increase. Expect competing brands to trim their jars sometime soon.  

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65 thoughts on “Hellmann’s Mayo: Introduces the 30 oz. Quart*”

  1. What am I missing here? A quart is 32 liquid ounces, and that’s a measure of volume, not weight. Hellman’s claims that their product weighs 30 ounces. This has nothing to do with the volume, or a quart, or the size of the jar. Why the outrage?

  2. Because if the density is the same (and it should be unless they changed the formula), then the volume or any other measurement must be less as well.
    Using water as an example, if the volume of water goes down 2 fluid ounces then the weight also goes down 2 ounces and vice versa (assuming equal temperatures).

  3. I am not surprised manufacturers have been doing thi for years. Of course duing the Bush administration it is happening more than ever. We who are on Social security wonder why they say there is no inflation, or why food is not on the core list of products to be checked for inflation we only eat to live.

  4. The companies have been doing this for a number of yeares, starting with the candy bars, soda, etc. You really cannot blame this on President Bush, too!! The only safety the consumer has is in being notified of this(like by Consumer World) and by pruchasing from other name brands or non-name brands, such as the store brand, that may not do this yet. It definitely is an unfair policy to the consumer. But so are the higher taxes!

  5. What rip! Plain and Simple. Companies such as this are doing this
    for one purpose and one purpose only. Corporate profits. They do it
    in this manner to sneak it by the consumer. It is planned and
    purposeful. No two ways about it. If it smells like a duck, and
    looks like a duck……..
    Time to let them know how you feel, and that you are not fooled.

  6. It’s the New Math…
    30 oz = qt.
    Years ago, this was championed by the
    coffee industry with the introduction
    of the 13 oz “pound of coffee” can.

  7. This practice is followed by many corporations. One of the
    most blatant examples are horseshoe nails which used to be
    sold by the pound. The same box which held 5 lbs of nails
    became a 500 count box of nails, doubling the price with one
    minor change in the label. It is probably no coincidence that
    this change followed consolidation in the industry resulting
    in more conditions/restrictions on retail sales.

  8. My least favorite in this category is ice cream, which has just made the transition in the last couple of years. I always say to my wife, “Honey, let’s pick up a 3/8 gallon of ice cream for dessert.” Right.
    Attempting a pre-emptive strike, I wrote to Hood praising them for being about the last company not to shrink their package. About 6 months later, they did anyway.

  9. The “sizing” down is an old story already and was noticed some
    time ago in “quart size” ice cream cartons that diminished
    over time. One way to beat it is to go with the flow–and
    take smaller portions! Probably healthier also.

  10. I sent a protest e-mail to Hellmans. It turns out that they are owned by
    Unilever, one of the largest and richest companies in the world. I got the
    same run-a-round about rising costs of materials, etc. I really feel sorry
    for them. Perhaps we should send them donations? In any case, it is very easy
    to make your own mayonaisse and you can flavor it as you wish. That’s exactly
    what I will do and it will be a lot cheaper.

  11. Having formerly spent 20+ years in the grocery business, I can tell you this
    type of price increase has been going on for a VERY long time. If you think
    that Mayo is a shocker, go take a close look at your jar of spaghetti sauce,
    all of which used to come in 32oz. “quart” jars. I wonder if our government
    takes these increases into account when they release their inflation figures,
    and proceed to tell us how well the economy is doing…

  12. I guess I’m missing the part where the jar on the right says “1QT”. Can someone point that out to me, because I can’t find it in the picture. Of course, it’s not there. I mean, who the heck goes “to get a quart of mayo”? People go to get a *jar* of mayo, or maybe “some” mayo, and if they buy by brand, then that’s what they wanted, and if they don’t care about brand, then they just look at the price/unit on the price tag, and get the cheapest one at or below the price they plan to pay. There just doesn’t seem to be any deception here, and acting as if there is seems to cheapen the cases in which there really is some kind of fraud going on.

  13. Randall Randall, If you look just to the left of the 946 ml measurement you will see
    it states 1 qt. Just under the 32 oz.

  14. I think you guys need to lighten up on this one. This site is supposed to call out deceptive fine print, is it not? They clearly mark this bottle as 30 oz, as clearly as they marked the old one 32. Just because it used to be bigger doesn’t mean they are being deceptive by making it smaller now. It’s not like they are calling it a quart and it’s not. Hey, inflation is inflation, things get more expensive. Go resurrect the USSR if you want price controls. Otherwise, either pay more for the same size or pay the same for less. I know they aren’t going to give away the mayonaisse for free, so you have to pick one and stop your petty griping. There are legitimate deceptions and scams out there. Stop beating up on the folks who are doing it right.

  15. That one *is* 32 ounces; it’s the one on the right that’s being “exposed” as less than a quart… but it doesn’t *say* 1QT on it as far as I can tell.

  16. “Honey, let’s pick up a 3/8 gallon of ice cream for dessert.”

    Also one of my husband’s pet peeves. Remember when a bag of potato chips was a pound of potato chips? Now, you might get 10 3/4 to maybe 13 ounces. The bag size doesn’t seem to change, yet when opened, it’s half-filled with air. Presumably to prevent the chips from being crushed, but half of that 10 3/4 ounces are crumbs, anyway.

    Or when produce went from being priced per unit (i.e., a bunch of broccoli or a single green pepper) to being priced per pound. Or, how about when a local supermarket chain advertised a “special” on luncheon meats in their deli, but a magnifying glass was needed to discover that the price advertised was per half-pound instead of the usual pound.

    Regardless of whether or not there’s any fine print involved, it’s a deceptive practice intended to increase corporate profits while lulling the consumer into believing that the benevolent company actually cares about saving their customers a buck. Hardly.

  17. The article contains a(several) mis-statment(s) by relating 30 fluid ounces to weight. Nowhere on the 30oz jar does it say that the jar is 1QT. It’s all about perception, and people just don’t pay attention to what they are really getting, it looks the same, but really isn’t.

  18. Bottom line is they have reduced the amount of the product and continued to sell the product at the same price banking on a person’s perception that they are getting the same amount as they have in the past. This is sneaky and dishonest. Why didn’t they just increase the price of the larger 32oz jar? That would surely be noticeable to the consumer. I wonder what the cost was for changing production to the new smaller jars? I wonder if keeping the prodcut in the same size jar with a different label crossed their minds? … maybe that would have been just too dishonest.

  19. They are far from being the first to incorporate this tactic. Look at chewing gum, candy bars , and packaged cookies just to name a few. I don’t buy for a minute the excuse that they are trying to ‘save’ the consumer money by not raising prices. Paying the same for less IS a price increase. And if you’re a concientious shopper, you KNOW that not only is quantity going down, prices are STILL going UP.

  20. Correct, this has been going on forEVER. I’m refering to downsizing the
    product size while UPsizing the product price. My prime example is catsup.
    Used to be 32oz containers. Now, even though price hovers around 99cents,
    now, the bottle sizes are 26oz….from 32oz to 26oz with SAME price.
    It’s ALL marketing; I just keep looking for them on sale!! 🙂

  21. Seems there’s only two people on this thread who realized it, but I just want to point out that comparing a fluid ounce to an avoirdupois ounce is folly. With metric, it is true that a mL of water has a mass of one g, but a fluid ounce of water has a weight of 1.04318 av. ounces, and bear in mind that’s WATER. All they’re claiming is that it’s 30 av. ounces – if that was water, therefore, it would take up a volume of 28.76 fluid ounces, but this isn’t water, it’s mayo, and I don’t feel like figuring out the specific gravity of mayo, but let’s take a quick example – if mayo were 90% the density of water, then one quart would hold exactly 30 av. ounces. Neat, huh! Needless to say, if all they’re claiming on the bottle is a weight of 30 (avoirdupois) ounces, no matter how it used to be measured or priced, it hardly belongs on this site unless it has a weight of something other than 1 pound 14 ounces.

  22. One thing I’ve found that helps in combatting these trends…I do my shopping at WinCo, and on the price-labels that appear on the shelves, they also list the price per ounce (pound, or other comparable unit). It makes it easier to do a genuine comparason between brands with all different sizes and shapes of packages. You might check your own local store and see if they include easy-comparison labeling.

    In so many different cases, the truth is there…you just have to look for it.

  23. This is something that has been annoying the heck out of me for years and years. Every product out there has done this in some form. I would much rather they not mess with the product size, dimensions, etc and just raise the price if it is necessary. We are not so foolish as to imagine everything will stay the same price forever. But we would like to depend on quality/quantity. In some cases size does matter, take for instance sanitary napkins, toilet paper, paper towels etc.

    I would not mind if it were not apparent that the named brand products cost, as compared to store brands, is tremendous. All those increased costs are apparently to pay for the marketing people who will then have to shmooze over this new less then product.

    Lets toss out the advertisers and just pass the savings on to the consumers. Let the product stand on it’s on merit, value, taste, quality etc. See what happens then.


  24. Recently, inflationary pressures have brought about by the increased costs of raw materials. Rather than raise our prices, we chose to slightly reduce the size of the 32 oz quart and 16 oz pint. This is the first time in over three years that we have had to increase costs to our consumers.”
    Did I miss something here? They say “rather than raise our
    prices,” then, they say “it’s the first time in years that
    we have had to increase costs to our customers.” Can’t have it
    both ways.

  25. Its 2 oz. Are you all buying so much mayonaise that this is such a big deal to you?
    Get a clue, nobody is deceiving you its written right on the container, stop being babies.

  26. Good grief!!!! This has been a standard marketing practice since the invention of the stone wheel! Quit your whining. In fact, here’s a direct quote from this very website about this practice, http://www.mouseprint.org/?cat=3

    “Product downsizing has been a fact of consumer life since the nickel candy bar. Rather than pass on a price increase directly to consumers, many manufacturers simply and inconspicuously make the product a little smaller, while keeping the selling price the same. Effectively, this is a hidden price increase. Historically, paper towels, detergent, candy bars, toilet paper, coffee, and tuna fish have been common items that keep shrinking in count or net weight.

    Manufacturers virtually never call the consumer’s attention to the fact that you are getting less for your money. In fact, they often direct the grocery shopper’s attention away from the small net weight statement by proclaiming something new about the product, like a new fragrance or improved formulation.”

    Why act so surprised people?

  27. Nyarlathotep: There is no mention of av. ounces at all. If you look at the image, you’ll see that all ounce measurements are fluid ounces.

  28. People are eating too much crap like this anyway. They put too much mayo in things and this stuff is just awful for you. Two fewer ounces? Big deal.

  29. Is it deception, maybe. Is it a ripoff, definately. Are they going to add more mayonnaise to the jar, never. After all they have to pay the person that came up with the idea a huge bonus. Although it would be difficult to make your own ice cream or peanut butter, making mayonnaise is relatively easy. The way to protest effectively is to boycott this product. Just google a recipe for mayonnaise, basically just egg whites, oil and vinegar. Add garlic, mustard, spices and herbs to taste and I bet you will be surprized at how much better it is than store bought. It’s not like building your own car. They can go to (Hell)man’s.

  30. I just found this sight.
    Jack Wisser who commented back on August 29, is blaiming the seated president –
    in this case – Bush – for Helmans Mayo down-sizing their jars? Or is it the
    current presidents fault for all advertising issues? Jack needs to find a political
    site to comment on. What does our president (who ever that may be),
    have to do with any of this?

    Blame the real culprets ….Hellmans and the advertisers!

  31. Well, it should be noted Ice Cream at your local stores, Stop & Shop, Shaws, Price Chopper etc have already
    done this with the half gallon Ice cream, now only being 1 3/4 quarts. Its the old 80’s Toyota attitude again
    “we give you more in less” any one out there every find a one pound coffe can with one pound in it.
    I have found from one company, Folxxxx, 4 different weights for the same coffee in the same can. Just
    remeber, “This product packaged by volume not by weight, some settling may have occured.”

  32. “Bush-haters,” which are typically left-wing loonies, will use any forum or excuse to bash Bush.
    It’s second-nature to them, and they have to have some kind of release for all of that pent up hate
    they are carrying around.

    I have to agree with those who think this particular “problem” isn’t that big a deal, though. If the
    package says “30 oz.” and not “1 QT,” then it’s up to the consumer to check that out. People can read,
    so let them.

  33. I am a glass bottle and jar supplier – this is nothing new by the way!
    Liquid volume and weight have nothing to do with each other.
    Perhaps someone should “weigh” the old and new and we then will have an accurate indication of how much “more” we are actually paying for the item.
    That would make a more meaningful article.

  34. Continuing with the smaller sizes, I bought some Glidden paint recently that appeared to be the one gallon size, but only had 124oz of paint, instead the 128oz that would be a gallon. Oh well.

  35. I remember this starting with coffe when the original (and honest) pound can suddenly shrunk. Now everything seems to be that way. If ever there was a rrole for government regulation this is it. Weights and measures should be consistent, unambiguous, and unchanging.

  36. I too am not surprised as other manufacturers have been doing this for years. A gross example is Yogurt container downsizing from 8 ounces to 6 ounces. This is either 25% or 33% less, depending on which way you measure it. If you are using these service size packages to keep on a light lunch diet, you would be way short on needed calories and nutriments. This kind of manufacture action sucks. Canned tomatoes are no longer 16 ounces but now are 14 1/2 ounces. That makes a real difference when you have a recipe that calls for a 16 oz can. Congress does not seem to be interested in creating uniform sizes. I only have negative speculation as to the reason congress (both parties) is / are not interested so I’ll not state it.

    Robert in Missouri

  37. Quit whining and start reading the labels.

    What do you expect Best Foods to do, print ‘New Smaller Jar’ on their label???

  38. There are many things I can justify blaming Bush for, but food/product downsizing is not one of them! It has been happening long before Reagan or even Carter/Ford/Nixon/???? was in office, Just we don’t have the empty food containers from back then to compare sizes/ingredients, Trust me I dislike them shrinking the product everytime we turn around, but worse changing the ingredients is an even bigger concern, I have a tendency of saving money so I still have cut up TV dinner boxes, receipe labels, etc going back years, alot have been written on the blank inside!! I beleive that is why I am such a bargain shopper, I look at the way they keep either rising the price or shrinking the content, in fact I actually prefer the price rise, I do remember the last price I paid for it, but far worse when I take the jar home and sit it next to the last jars (usually still around storing stuff) and notice the shrinkage I usually don’t buy that brand for a long time, as I do the per ounce(weight) on everything, and do break it out, not to mention I don’t go shopping on a daily basis, so I do want what I purchased to last long enough for me to get back there on my regularly scheduled visit instead of the quick run because I ran out!!!!!! I do usually catch these things in the store, but when I don’t I get even madder!!!!!!!! OF COURSE THE CHANGING OF CONTENT SOME COMPANIES DO TO MAKE IT CHEAPER, such as the 70’s/80’s removing sugar to place corn syrup instead is just one of those big disappointments of my lifespan (and probly ONE reason I’m a lot larger!)………..just my .0175cents worth….one day I may give my .02cents worth to someone, but I’ve got that saved incase I need to tip a very lousy waiter/waitress haven’t figure out how to physically give less than a penny, but I probly could get big business to tell me HOW >gringroan

  39. Stop telling people -whoo, hoo!
    It’s a sick,deceptive practive that has been going on for years.
    The reason companies do this is because of people like some of the posters on these pages who don’t care about them
    taking a little here or a little there. Folks, it all adds up! I’d be happier if they left the sizes alone and just raised prices. Our government wouldn’t be able to lie to us about true inflation. P.S.-I’m not talking about CORE inflation.

  40. I just checked a jar in my fridge of Kraft mayo with a bright red splash stating “10% more than leading national brand”. The size marked is 33 fl oz. They’re not lying but it sure isn’t honest marketing. Unbelievable.

  41. OK…
    Was in the grocery business for 32 years and this has not ALWAYS been the norm… Oh yeah, I have common sense also which seems to lack in this world of ours on occasion.
    For all you youngsters out there who just except getting ripped off OK, well your day will come when you figure it out, we all do. Deception plain and simple and it has nothing to do with any President.
    Hellmann’s made a conscious decision to increase its profits and is just in doing so. I am just in doing so at not purchasing their product anymore, America, works both ways!!! I don’t by Dryers, Starkist or Folgers anymore either, my choice and there is plenty out there.
    Pay the piper or maybe as suggested above by a shopper at a store like WinCo, read and purchase by the “price by volume tag”, OR BUYER BEWARE. It works both ways; we don’t have to purchase their products.
    Yep, they print it plain and clear only because they have to.
    Kraft has used this to their marketing advantage, more for less and I don’t think they are going broke?
    Hellmann’s made a huge decision to make it on all fronts to increase profit by a huge margin and deceiving their loyal customers. Fact is, they do this because “loyal customers” are rare anymore and they market to the CHUMP now which is in no shortage.
    I’ll pay more, just don’t change the volume. Imagine the day when a pound of bacon will be 7 oz. How about a gallon of gasoline at maybe 74 oz’s. Bet that would bunch up some of your shorts!!!
    Huge profit increase, not just in volume:
    1-Lowered volume of container, can you imagine the
    extra amount of mayo at 2 oz. a jar times even just
    one weeks production, staggering!
    2-Went to plastic, lower cost than glass.
    3-Plastic weighs less, HUGE distribution advantage.
    especially with the cost of diesel.
    4-Smaller size jar (not visual), counts for added
    linear footage on grocery shelf for their product
    for sales. Times that by a billion grocery stores
    nationwide and you wined up with MILES MORE! Footage
    in stores is a premium.
    I think they could have increased the profit fairly in all categories and leave the “volume” the same, a quart! Imagine that consept, corporate no being greedy…

    And some believe no intent on their deception!
    Did I mention I have some swampland for sale!

    OK, eat me alive and goodnight!
    You get what you see…

  42. Not to be a shill for Kraft but 30 ounce x 1.1 = 33 ounces.
    If their jar has 33 ounces they were telling the truth.

  43. Over the past few years the corporate giant, Unilever, has been quietly shrinking the size of all their consumer products and substituting cheaper ingredients. (Breyers 1.75qt ice cream, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter 15oz spread, 30oz mayonnaise etc.) This is of course to boost their stock price so a few rich bastards can get even richer. Want to get even? Buy someone else’s products–-that’s what I do.

  44. Whitman’s Chocolates ‘takes the candy’…. A full 25% shaved on their signature one pound Sampler.. Down to 12 ounces in the same sized box… The two pound was also cut 25% to 24 ounces… Same prices… Done in one swoop, between T’giving and Christmas, 2006… I had to apologize to Mom…
    And in full circle, Hershey’s has reintroduced their 8oz. bar.. After shaving it piece by ptece for about 12 years… Think it got down to 5 3/4 oz….. Forrest…

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