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September 17, 2012

Here We Downsize Again – Part 3 (2012)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

Last week, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer covered the issue of downsized grocery products spotlighting those discovered by MrConsumer and Mouse Print* readers (see their pictures). Click the picture below to view the video:

ABC World News

Here are some more examples:


Raisin Bran

Kellogg’s recently reduced the sizes of its raisin bran cereal. In this case, it went from 15 oz. to 13.7 oz., but miraculously, it still has two scoops of raisins. (They must be using smaller scoops.)



Kashi Strawberry Fields cereal recently downsized from 10.4 ounces to 10.3 ounces. Big deal, you say. But wait, there’s more, as Ron Popeil would say. A quick look at the nutrition label reveals that the old box gave you nine one-cup servings of cereal, but the new one only gives you five cups. What happened? They reformulated the product by adding more whole grains. That made the flakes denser and heavier. And they are still charging $4.59 a box even though you are getting over 40% fewer servings. Thanks to Jenn Z. for the tip on Kashi.



Duncan Hines

Both Pillsbury and Duncan Hines followed Betty Crocker’s lead (which we reported on here) and downsized their 18.25 ounce cake mixes. They still claim to make 24 cupcakes and the same size cakes, but as our Pillsbury test on ABC revealed, there was barely enough batter for 21.

As the price for raw materials and transportation continues to go up, manufacturers will continue to downsize their products. It is up to us to catch their packaging shenanigans, because they certainly are not going to tell us “look smaller size” or “look, sneaky price increase.”

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  1. Lying is now an accepted practice in politics and business as with the cupcake issue. Anyone north of age 25 who does the shopping clearly recognizes the downsizing and now it will just continue and continue with very little honesty generated from the perpetrators. Trouble is our options as consumers are just about nil as one manufacturer will take the lead in downsizing and the others quickly follow. Do they take turns, Edgar?

    Edgar replies: I would not say they take turns, but they are copycats. One company downsizes its toilet paper, while others may tout they give you more. Then, those with more, follow the leader and downsize their products as well. After the name brands change, then the store brands follow suit.

    Comment by Rick — September 17, 2012 @ 7:03 am
  2. Raisins are another recently downsized product: Sun Maid went from 24 to 20oz in SAME size container. The store brand (Price Chopper, now SIZE Chopper)retained their 24oz., which gave me hope. But no, within weeks, they too went to 20oz.

    Comment by Marty — September 17, 2012 @ 8:40 am
  3. Edgar is on target: it’s all factored ahead of time. What revenue from initial customer drop-off will be lost vs. how much additional income will we realize from those who stay? And most likely, some will return anyway. It’s all math.

    Comment by Marty — September 17, 2012 @ 8:45 am
  4. Its the same with soda, both Coke and Pepsi are now pushing the smaller cans here. I have noticed more ads in the past two weeks, but that is only half the story since the smaller cans now have been downsized to 7.5 fl. oz. a can, down from 8 fl. oz.. A 6.25% reduction for the same price. Makes you wonder if a reduction in the 12 fl oz can is right around the corner. But wait, the cans are still 12 fl oz, its just the 24 pack is now a 20 pack a 16.67% reduction. Next thing we know it the 2-liter bottle will become the 2 quart bottle.

    I a, sure with NYC banning anything over 16 fl oz, the big guy are working hard on their new 15 ounce packaging to get in under the law. Why stop at 0.9 fl oz when you can make it 1.9? Time will tell.

    Comment by Joseph — September 17, 2012 @ 9:39 am
  5. I’m sick of all this sneaky cheating and giving us less for our money. Now I’ve found another one. Jell-o Temptations Raspberry cheesecake cups. Until recently (July 2012) they came in packs of 3 at 150 cals per serve/cup and 115g and when I dug in my spoon it came up half way on the handle. Now the NEW 4 pack gives us 4 pots @ 100g and 130 cals and barely covers the bowl of my teaspoon. Tastes the same but the ratio of jello to mousse is messed up.

    Comment by Jill Gordon — September 17, 2012 @ 9:58 am
  6. The clip quoted “the consumer will take downsizing over high prices”. Nothing was ever said about how consumers were surveyed to reach this conclusion. They never asked me. This consumer will take higher prices over downsizing anytime.

    Comment by Frankie — September 17, 2012 @ 10:59 am
  7. It appears the Raisin Bran boxes are the same size as well!

    But I guess they do get you there, exactly what is the definition of a “scoop”? Heck, they could say the new box has 3 scoops or 4.

    Comment by Cindy — September 17, 2012 @ 11:19 am
  8. I’m glad I started paying attention to unit pricing a few years ago. I used to be the person blindly picking up the products I have come to like, but once I started paying attention to weight and servings I have become much more savvy.

    The manufacturers aren’t doing anything wrong here, it’s all on the label, so customers have to pay attention.

    Comment by Wayne R — September 17, 2012 @ 11:20 am
  9. I have read repeatedly that it’s a “good thing” that inflation has not hit food prices. How is that not happening when we’re getting less for our money? One thing’s for sure: we can all do with a lot less of the junky things featured in this article. I stopped buying most cereals a long time ago, when prices hit the roof. Plain old oatmeal is just fine, and a lot better for you.

    Comment by S. A. Linden — September 17, 2012 @ 12:44 pm
  10. If you suddenly see the price of gas drop by 50%, they’ll be selling it by the half-gallon.

    Comment by Marty — September 17, 2012 @ 2:06 pm
  11. …Anyone else notice that the new, less-full Raisin Bran box is a slight bit bigger than the old one? And I also happened to notice that one product actually called attention to its downsize, albeit in a strange way. Slim Jims, you know, those spicy processed-meat snack sticks? Well, they were selling boxes of sixteen. Now, for the past couple of months, the boxes have one fewer stick in them. And it clearly says so on the package: “15 STICKS INSIDE!” Granted, your average consumer won’t remember that the box used to have 16, but I still find it odd that ConAgra (the maker of Slim Jims) actually called attention to a downsize. Opinions?

    Comment by Xterra — September 20, 2012 @ 6:24 pm
  12. Joseph:

    I don’t know that this is actually going to be downsizing (however, I wouldn’t be surprised), but lately I’ve noticed 1.5-liter bottles of Coke products. The 2-liter bottle is still available, though. Some stores (mini-markets) are choosing to carry 12.5-ounce bottles of coke/diet coke, rather than 12-oz cans of the same.

    Comment by Jamie — September 23, 2012 @ 12:35 am
  13. Today I picked up 24 bottles of belmont spring water for $3.47 at home depot. I thought they were equivalent to poland springs water in size. No, Belmont springs is 16 oz. a bottle and poland springs is 16.9 oz per bottle. I got a poland springs 24 pack for $2.88 this week at cvs.

    Comment by nancyellen — September 23, 2012 @ 7:34 pm
  14. One thing I recently noticed: here in the northeast, we have Market Basket stores. I like to buy brand name Pop Tarts, but they’re pricey. You can buy the Market Basket brand and they’re 99-cents. The ingredients are the same, the box is the same size, so one would assume it has 4 pks in it – HOWEVER, instead of getting 4 pks in the brand name, there are only 3 PKS in the Market Basket brand!! Yes, consumers need to be more alert!!

    Comment by Cathy Burns — October 3, 2012 @ 11:18 am

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