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Tropicana Inconspicuously Downsizes Half Gallons of OJ

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.


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.


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.

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41 thoughts on “Tropicana Inconspicuously Downsizes Half Gallons of OJ”

  1. Tropicana orignially had 59 oz cartons with it introduced it’s “Trop 50” series of products. Maybe they determied it would be easier to make all the cartons contain the same amount of beverage.

  2. Yeah…the costs have forced us to do this with the Florida OJ crop. Now let’s see if they revert back to 64oz when that market stabilizes and drops. Sure they will.

  3. I guess they figured underfilling the existing carton by 8% is just this side of ethical. I wonder, though, are there contents-to-container underfilling regulations to stop people selling packaged air, or could Topicana underfill a half-gallon container by, say, 16 ounces without raising an FTC eyebrow so long as they changed the label to say “48 oz.”? And if there are such regulations for non-deceitful packaging, how close does the 8% underfill they chose come to the maximum? I’d be willing to hazard a guess that “10% maximum underfill of any container” might be the limit.

    Anyway, the next time they have a nice bumper crop of oranges, we’ll know they were being completely truthful in the canned response above, because they’ll have to fill the cartons right back up to 64 oz. to prove they weren’t lying about the one and only reason they provided for the price rise. They’ll probably do that, right? Yeah?


  4. I sure wish retailers like Walmart and large grocery chains would flex their muscles and threaten to stop carrying products of companies who use deceptive practices unless they’re restored back to their original contents.

  5. Holding the line on prices only works on items that are consumed in such a way that less is used after the change. For example, a single serve container. It’s not likely that you’ll change from pouring 8 ounce glasses to 7.375. So you’ll end up buying more cartons and the price will have gone up anyway.

  6. How was the second question not answered? There is nothing deceptive going on here! The carton clearly states the amount of product contained within!!! These downsizing posts are getting old and ridiculous.

  7. It is not clear to the average consumer who just picks up, drops in the cart and goes to the checkout. Most consumers do not look at each item they are dropping in the cart to check if it is the same size as last weeks item which is what these companies count on. It is a sneaky way to get in a price increase. Same price less product is a price increase and that is what these posts mainly are about.

  8. So what? Prices of everything are going up! It’s the economy! Do you want them to retool all the machinery to make the cartons 8% smaller? How much will that drive up prices. They did the SIMPLEST, MOST COST EFFECTIVE means to bring you a product at a price point that is competitive with other competing products. If they didn’t, their profits go down and they go out of business. You need to have some personal resposibility here and READ THE LABLE!

  9. Shawn, do you read every bit of every label? They obviously paid to replate the printing press to print the proper measurement, but I don’t see any other comment from them about the smaller size on the package. Having worked for the print industry for nearly 20 years I can tell you other than paying a designer to layout the label change the replating cost them nothing as they do wear out and have to be replaced. Its about the fact that they are deceptive about it. It’s also a matter of the environment. They are increasing the amount of solid waste produced to distribute the same quantity of product. Its also a way to put your same visually sized product on the shelf with other products and make it look like you’re getting the same amount of juice and if you’re not very careful and calculate the per ounce price you could be costing yourself even more.

    Bottom line, I shouldn’t have to be a product detective to be comfortable that if I run into the store to buy a product I know they aren’t hiding their product changes behind the label.

  10. Sure, replacing the printing plates might not cost much. However, I’m sure companies like that have tons of those boxes made at one time so they can get the best price possible. They don’t just order boxes whenever they need more juice. I work for a small manufacturing company and we use boxes for our products. I know our production factories order way more boxes at a time than we’ll need for any given order. If we were to decide that we wanted different box sizes all of a sudden, then either we or our factory have to eat the cost of all those unused boxes.

    Yeah, Tropicana is much larger and probably could afford to eat the cost to replace all of those boxes and give customers smaller ones. However, the name of the game is profit. What business owner honestly wants to lose money if they don’t have to? Besides, let’s say they did offer an 8% smaller box. How many people would even notice? Because you’re not gonna just walk over to the shelf and see those smaller boxes stocked next to bigger ones. They would all be smaller ones. An 8% reduction wouldn’t be very easy to spot if you didn’t have a previous box to compare it to. So why should they bother wasting money on something like that if they don’t have to? Is it unethical? Sure, many people would think so. Is it illegal? Obviously not, and that’s what really matters to big companies like that.

  11. I have a simple question:

    How much of a price difference is their between the 64oz carton and the 59oz carton??? Just talking about the carton, not the juice.

  12. Simple fact:

    59 oz/64 oz = .921875

    The cube root of .921875 is .97325 (give or take a tiny fraction of a drop)

    1 – .97325 = .02675 = 2.675%

    Are you seriously going to tell me that consumers who don’t notice a 5 oz (almost 8%) difference in weight AND a change in labeling will notice a package that is a few millimeters narrower, shallower and shorter? Honestly, I doubt you’d notice the difference if the two containers were side by side (or mixed) on the shelf, unless you were looking.

    That’s why we have sites like these — to let us know.

    Seriously, I’ve hated this crap downsizing since the 1970s. I want cans to have defined standard sizes like 16 oz, etc. — but that’s going to have to be a separate law, and blowing up a storm over the last few products to leave *that* barn after the door has been open for decades is missing he point.

    You want to see fraud? Simple. Look up the USDA nutritional values for, say, 16 oz of green beans (drained wt). Now look at any *similarly sized* (14.7, 15, 15.25 oz) can of green beans in your cupboard — gee, it has pretty much the same values (per oz or serving). Now open the can, drain it thoroughly and — miracles of miracles! — that 15oz can contains maybe 7.51-7.6 oz of beans [i]– and they have the same nutrition as 16 oz of USDA-measured drained green beans![/i]

    Better beans? Not at all. It’s a loophole that’s been in the labeling laws since the nutritional labeling acts were passed in the 1970s — and to be very blunt, they lied more since the 1990s because more people were paying attention in the inflation-spiral 70s. The law (then and now) says they don’t have to measure anything but can use values from [i]any published source[/i] right down to the the Harper Valley PTA cookbook. And who regulated the cookbooks? No one. It’s perfectly legal to completely *invent* calorie counts or vitamin contents in a cookbook.

    A prepared food can even use the published values from any recipe they deem “substantially similar”. I’d suspect that some companies probably “sponsored” some unrealistically low calorie counts, but y’know what? They wouldn’t have to. There are plenty of Harper Valley housewives who’d shave the calorie counts on their own, just to have the bragging rights on a low-cal snack that tasted as good as “the real thing”, and plenty of folks who’d love to believe them and pass it on (with variations)

    Seriously: the nutritional scores on almost all canned/prepared goods bear little resemblance to the actual values. Ask any nutritional biochemist *who does product measurements* or send a sample to your local lab. It’s a little pricey, but split the cost with some friends. One single result will likely clue you in to the huge problem.

    Pick a can. Any can. Do the math with the USDA nutritional values to get “nutrients per oz of drained weight” and then weigh the drained weight of you favorite canned/prepared veggies. How can the manufacturer get the same nutrients in 7.5 oz drained weight that the USDA gets in 15-16?

    Edgar replies: Close to a year ago, Tropicana introduced Trop50 — a watered down orange juice beverage. It comes in 59 oz. containers. Those containers are a completely different shape from the traditional 64 oz ones. They are taller and narrower. At least with those, consumers might be prompted to read the net weight statement to see exactly how much was in these new-fangled containers.

  13. Orpheus,

    As an obsessive calorie counter, I get what you’re saying about the potential for fraud. But there is one problem with your post. The nutritional info on canned veggies is listed per serving. They don’t actually change teh listed serving size when they change the size of the can. They just go from 2 servings per can to “about 2”. This is one of my HUGE pet peeves.

  14. When companies admit to downsizing products for some reason, they should be followed by well why don’t they reduce the price? This has happened with toilet paper, they advertised 1000 sheets but the sheet got significantly smaller. The small water bottles that are sold are now changing the shape to look like a sports bottle and claiming to fit into your hand better but yet the con-caved sides reduce the amount of water….

    Why can’t they offer a 59oz Tropicana for less money then the 64oz if they are that concerned with the Florida farmers.

  15. The 59oz container is the next step in preparing us for the complete switch to metric measure. 59oz is 1.75 l., a common container size and used in the liquor industry for many years. OK, mr. manufacturer, sell me less if you want to. You’re not going to increase your sales that way; BUT, don’t expect me to pay the same price for it! It ain’t gonna happen. My favorite ice cream manufacturer tried it, first to 59oz then to 48oz. I now buy the 64oz store brands for quite a bit less and enjoy them just as much.

  16. As long as they don’t refer to it as a “half gallon” then they aren’t technically being deceptive, just misleading.

    I always check the fluid ounce statement because larger containers often contain less!

  17. I quit buying cartons of o.j. A while ago when I realized that all I was getting was the o.j. concentrate premixed with water. I know just buy the concentrate and mix it myself at home. If I want fresh juice I buy oranges. Makes life easier.

  18. Worst Crop in 20 Years! That is such nonsense. Being in creative and printing industry, we all know the kind of planning it takes to remake packaging and reprint. It happens over a very long process, not just in the year of bad crops. First, old packaging must be exhausted including multiple carton packaging used in the wholesale and big box stores. Second, we are all aware Tropicanna attempted to change their logo and packaging last year. With a so called less Calories? I believe.(Coincidentally the packaging called Trop 50 had the lower ounces and a cute little orange cap.) According to industry press, it was a failure. I guess all that cardboard went unused at a costly price to “The Corporation”. That was THE test in anticipation of the change, it was a deliberate, cooperate tactical move. Should they use the new logo and package design and be honest or keep the old logo and try to see if we would notice. What I would say to Tropicanna, own up. Stop blaming the crops, blame inflation.

    Sadly, I love the juice, have been a customer my whole life, but I might re think my loyalty, not because of the lower ounces, but because of a lack honesty.

  19. Those who would attempt to excuse this behavior by Tropicana are missing the point. The complaint isn’t that the price increased but rather that by downsizing the carton they attempted to hide the fact from consumers. Pretending that the price didn’t increase by downsizing the carton shows that they think consumers are stupid. They say they issued a press release but:
    a) I didn’t see it and imagine most folks didn’t.
    b) They don’t explain why they didn’t highlight the change on the carton itself (other than simply changing the amount listing which I believe they hoped most people wouldn’t notice).
    In my opinion this is a pure and simple attempt at deception and they should NOT be rewarded by consumers continuing to buy their product especially when their competitors still sell the 64 ounce. I just went to the store yesterday and saw 2 other brands of “not from concentrate” juices that still have the real half gallon size. I really liked the Tropicana product but I won’t buy from people that think I’m stupid.

  20. I just discovered that Florida’s Natural just jumped on the 59 oz bandwagon. Now virtually all of the brands selling “half gallon” containers of orange juice have cleverly and quietly downsized to 59 oz.

    My local supermarket now has a bright red tag on the shelf saying “Still 64 oz!!!!” for the one brand that is still a true half gallon.

  21. The new carton also says — in small letters — that the oranges come from Florida AND BRAZIL. They sure didn’t advertise the fact that they’ve outsourced their orange growing to another country, either. Same carton, less juice, even less American juice.

  22. I question whether the manufacturers of any downsized products end up recouping any savings when all is said and done. When there is a change in the sku #, retailers charge exhorbitant listing fees (at least in Canada) for putting the product on the shelf. There is also 1)the additional cost of selling the older size product at a lower price in an effort to clear the shelf and warehouses of it and make way for the new size, 2)all the administration costs at both the retail and manufacturer level for chsnging the sku data and 3)all the cost in time the marketing/sales dept. spends on making and implementing the change (especially when there is no potential benefit of new consumers). In the end, the retailer is still going to increase the price on whatever product is on the shelf, regardless of the size over time. It would be far more cost effective to implement any size changes at the same time as an ingredient change instead of angering consumers with less product for basically the same price.

  23. I just bought a carton of Tropicana and didn’t notice the new 59 oz size until I got it home. I thought it was very sleazy that they would do this. I Googled and found this forum.

    This is similar to what the coffee industry did some time ago (was it the 70s?) when they started downsizing cans from 16 oz to 15, 13.5 and 13 oz. In a lot of cases, the can size didn’t change, only the amount of contents. Now, only the true “premium” coffee, mostly whole bean gourmet coffees, are sold in 16 oz packages.

    I noticed that the size change came after a “failed” redesign of the package that many considered “generic” looking. So, they generate some dissatisfaction first, then bring back the old design and put less product in it. I’m sorry, but I happen to think that is just too convenient to be a mistake.

    The Florida crop failure reason that they give is also disingenuous, considering that they also use oranges from Brazil.

    And yes, my favorite store brand still comes in 64 oz. cartons.

  24. I just noticed this the other day and it pissed me off to the point that I will never buy Tropicana again. I only happened to catch it because it was on sale and I am always suspect of “sale” items. Sleazy!

  25. “I sure wish retailers like Walmart and large grocery chains would flex their muscles and threaten to stop carrying products of companies who use deceptive practices unless they’re restored back to their original contents.”

    That’s like asking 1 of 2 rabid dogs to be nicer than the other.

  26. I stopped buying Tropicana when I first noticed the change. I buy at the local Publix & happily bought their store-brand 64 oz OJ. I have watched over the past year as the other brands also began shrinking. Just this past week, Publix brand has switched over to 59 oz. here in N. GA. Frozen concentrate for me from now on, I had purchased Tropicana all my life (I’m 57) but switched last year.

    I won’t pay money to companies who try to deceive me.

    I never saw a sign by the display case pointing out the change, explaining the reasoning, never saw a “press release”, never read about it in the paper nor saw a report on TV. I blame the snot-nosed MBA’s.

  27. It’s purely deceptive! My cousin and I both buy cartons of orange juice frequently, but when you’re used to just grabbing it off the shelf for years, of course you’re NOT going to notice that it’s suddenly 59oz instead of 64oz!

    “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.”

    Bull! They just know that the consumers would BE AWARE of a price increase and BE OBLIVIOUS to a content reduction! It’s pure FRAUD!

  28. For the record, Tropicana, I stopped buying your brand the day the 59-ounce “half gallon” containers hit the shelves. Before this I bought Tropicana brand OJ almost exclusively. I hope your price increase has made up for the customers you chased away with your deceptive business practices.

    Here’s the kicker, folks, no one in my family has complained about the taste of our less expensive non-Tropicana juice. That’s the risk you take when you’re peddling a “premium” product that is only premium in price; make a consumer-unfriendly change and you might be discovered for the fraud that you are.

  29. To borrow from Jimmy McMillan, “Tropicana is too damn high!” I’ve only bought it on sale and with a coupon on Geezer/5%-Off Day for many years. Walmart’s HomeMaker premium is just as good, and even with the recent 10% price increase it’s still a lower per-ounce price. So the 59 won’t bother me until Walmart starts it. Then I suppose I will have to make an “agonizin’ reappraisal”, from an ancient 7-Up ad, but the lowest per-ounce will still win my bucks.

  30. “I won’t pay money to companies who try to deceive me.”

    Same here. I used to buy Tropicana when it was on sale, but now I stick with the store brand exclusively.

  31. I didn’t notice this downsizing after I bought a half gallon of Publix Brand premium orange juice. when I went to the refrigerator to get a glass of juice, the carton felt lighter. I thought maybe my wife had drunk some earlier but the seal wasn’t broken. It was then that I notice that the container was only 59 ounces. Virtually all manufacturers have jumped on this band wagon. What a scam. If I had the choice of paying more for a half gallon or less for 59 ounces, I’d pay for the half gallon. Because we paying the same for less, it was a price increase after all.

    I remember EDY’s ice cream starting this mess with ice cream so that most brands of ice cream sold are no longer half gallons but the price didn’t go down. EDY said they did it to avoid a price increase. If you charging me the same amount of money for less product, you have raised the price. What a scam.

  32. So what’s the theory on why Tropicana went from 59 oz cartons to 59 oz bottles? Presumably, there’s the same amount of juice. Has anyone actually had the time and/or resources to confirm that the new bottles, though they *say* “59 oz,” do indeed have as much juice as the 59 oz cartons did?

    Edgar replies: The bottles of Tropicana have been 59 ounces forever. The cartons were downsized from 64 ounces a few years ago.

  33. Remember this?

    The laws of supply and demand don’t seem to work with big multinationals, do they? If there’s a rise in wholesale prices, retailers jack up product price. Then they make an infrastructural change (e.g. smaller packaging) to institutionalize the reduction. But what happens when wholesale prices fall? The retail price never follows suit; rather, the corporation simply waits it out and redirects whatever funds it can to inhibit competitors who may be able to undercut their prices from entering the market. Those funds are, of course, redirected to law firms who attempt to enjoin such competition, claiming some trumped up violation of a law that the corporation told a politician on its campaign contribution payroll to lobby, sponsor and have enacted.

    This is how it works, plain and simple — and you probably didn’t even read halfway through the first paragraph before wondering whether I’m some crazy leftist conspiracy nut. Believe me, I’m not. And I like orange juice.

    I’m not sure what free market capitalism is, but this ain’t it.

  34. Edgar: If you say the Tropicana bottles have been 59 ounces for a long time, I’ll take your word for it. Only in the last few months did I hear from Tropicana itself about the bottles being phased in (and the 59-ounce cartons being phased out), and only in the last few weeks have I seen the 59-ounce bottles being sold in stores. Meanwhile, the carton downsize from 64 ounces to 59, as you indicate, was fairly contemporaneous with this article’s date. (Florida’s Natural did the same thing a few months later.)

    My question does not regard any of that. Rather, it regards the Tropicana 59-ounce bottles and how much actually is in them. Again, notwithstanding their apparent existence for a long time, these Tropicana bottles heretofore have not been ubiquitous in the Northeast / Mid-Atlantic markets. Supermarkets are only now switching over from Tropicana 59-ounce cartons — both remain available on grocer shelves, and I am wondering whether, given the opportunity, anyone has actually measured the liquid in 59-ounce bottles from Tropicana, Simply Orange, Minute Maid, Tree Ripe, and other brands to ensure they do in fact contain 59 ounces.

    The question stems from suspicion regarding why Pepsi-Co decided to phase out Tropicana 59-ounce cartons in favor of 59-ounce bottles. I’m not convinced that a move to all-plastic will, in itself, save Pepsi-Co enough money to financially justify the abandonment of cartons, and I certainly don’t believe the move is grounded in some altruistic desire on Pepsi-Co’s part to be more environmentally friendly. I’m wondering if there’s another more cynical explanation, given the touted rise in orange crop prices.

    Hopefully that clears up what I’m trying to ask. Thanks.

    Edgar replies: GF: I misspoke in the previous post. The 59-ounce carafes have always been 59 ounces, but they were of a different brand. I find your suspicion interesting, but probably not founded. One could question any product’s weight or contents, right? Just because a company has switched its packaging does not in my mind raise the issue that maybe they are cheating the public on the net contents too. They would violate state and federal law if they short-weighted their products. Pepsi could save a lot more money if they gave you one ounce less in every 2-liter bottle of soda (but they would get into big trouble legally).

  35. Regarding the 59-ounce bottles, it appears as though they are designed purposely to pour out more content than the former design on the carton – another ploy for consumers to go through more product quicker so you replenish quicker.

  36. Four years ago I filed a complaint with the FTC. I am a diabetic and would measure out OJ. Never got 64oz. It was always 3-5oz short. Most brands, all stores. A small adjustment on the filler and the company was shorting the juice in the carton. At first I contacted the companies and said I think you have a problem. They were very nice and sent coupons for free juice. Nice touch but it didn’t solve the problem. So I went to the FTC. They said they have inspections and would check into it. Never heard back but began to notice 64oz was replaced by 59oz.

  37. Puffs facial tissues have the same size box but less tissues. The tissues themselves have shrunk in the last five years. I have compared the tissues from 5 years ago and the tissues are now smaller and not as soft as they used to be. Shame on the Puffs Company Manufacturers.

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