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Product Dilution: Breyers Lightens More Ice Cream

Last year, we reported that Breyers “cheapened” many varieties of their ice cream by reducing the amount of butterfat content to the point where the product could no longer legally be called “ice cream,” but rather had to be renamed “frozen dairy dessert.”

Some stalwart flavors, like MrConsumer’s beloved lactose-free vanilla, remained untouched until now. To MrConsumer’s horror and surprise, Breyers quietly converted that ice cream variety to “light ice cream.”


Breyers old - new front
Click to enlarge

In the new packaging, the “All Natural Ice Cream” claim is replaced with the phrase “Quality Since 1866.” Of course, it doesn’t say the same quality. And the words “ice cream” are replaced with “light ice cream.”

What exactly is “light ice cream?” According to FDA rules:

“Light” ice cream contains at least 50% less total fat or 33% fewer calories than the referenced product (the average of leading regional or national brands).

Looking at the nutrition panels of the old Breyers lactose free ice cream and the new one reveals only a minor reduction in calories.


Breyers old-new

The old “ice cream” product had 130 calories and the new “light” one has 110 calories, only 20 fewer calories. It does however have half the fat. And, the federal law says that light ice cream must have EITHER half the fat OR 33% fewer calories.

There is just one problem, though. The front of the package claims very clearly that the new light ice cream has BOTH half the fat and 1/3 fewer calories.

Breyers fat-cals

Clearly, this new lactose free light ice cream does not comply with that representation when compared to their old regular lactose free ice cream. So how do they get away with this claim?


breyer one-third fewer

Tucked away on a side panel is that tiny disclosure. They are not comparing this new light ice cream with THEIR old regular ice cream, but rather with some super premium brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs as well. Those have been thrown in to up the average amount of fat and calories in “full fat” brands, and thus make Breyers’ reduction seem more impressive than it really is. (Haagen Dazs has 250 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving, while Ben & Jerry’s has 230 calories and 14 grams of fat.)

Mouse Print* asked the PR firm representing Breyers three times to explain why they cheapened some of their products, and they provided no response.

If you spot a new example of “product dilution,” please send complete before and after details to edgar [at symbol] mouseprint.org .

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14 thoughts on “Product Dilution: Breyers Lightens More Ice Cream”

  1. I stopped buying Breyer’s several years ago when they were one of the first to downsize, but charged the same price. Many store brands better [premium] ice creams are equal to the former Breyer’s in taste, but less money. Give them a try!

  2. Thats kinda funny, less fat (so less taste). However, more carbs (more sugar). The ingredient list is quite a bit different. Also higher in salt content. The newer formula must not taste nearly as good if they added salt and sugar… So in all this ice cream is less healthy for you and being advertised as a ‘lite’ brand.

  3. me – Read “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler. The American food industry has latched on to the fact that certain combinations of sugar, fat, and salt have addictive qualities and is primarily invested in delivering these combinations to consumers as efficiently as possible. Consumers, despite what they claim or believe they want, will instead search out hyperpalatable foods high in sugar, fat, and salt.

    It’s actually quite possible that the old recipe was shelved not because it was more expensive, but because the new one actually tested better with focus groups. It’s just the way people have been wired since the hunter/gatherer days, if not earlier.

  4. So many companies do this and I HATE it. They have one product, then they have a “light” version that has claims like this, but then they go to compare it to COMPETITORS products instead of their own.

    It would be like saying I have a car, let’s call it a pencilmobile. But I also make a pencilmobile GT that is TWICE as fast. But oh, I meant twice as fast as someone else’s economy car…. [name of vehicle edited]

  5. One thing about “ice cream” that I have noticed, many of the store brands are still ice cream and the store brands are cheaper. I just find it odd that the cheap store brands are still considered REAL ice cream where the high end brands no longer have enough dairy in them.

    Or is it that the store brands haven’t changed their packaging but have changed their product, but they get in under the wire as not as much criticism is directed towards store brands?

  6. I couldn’t find a reasonably priced ice cream that doesn’t have corn syrup and a ton of chemicals in it. So now I make my own ice cream. All natural and tastes great.

  7. I used to like Breyers. I no longer do. Breyers used to be a quality product. It no longer is. Now we buy Prairie Farms, Target’s Market Pantry, or other store brands. Better values, better products.

  8. Most ice cream has deteriorated to plain old crap over the years. Use to be you could grab product from Howard Johnson’s to Hood and get a very good ice cream. No more. You want the real stuff you have to go to places that specialize in home made. Costs a small fortune but puts the super market garbage to shame.

  9. Breyer’s used to be a name that inspired trust, and a short ingredient list not weighed down with lots of cheap fillers and preservatives. Now it takes quite a lot of effort to determine which Breyer’s products are still “ice cream”. Way to lower the stature of your brand name!

  10. At some point in the future most snack foods will be sugar and some kind of medium that holds the sugar in place. It won’t be a medium that knowledgeable people want to eat though.

    Shame on these companies for lowering the quality of their products, but shame on the people for not caring about quality. At the end of the day cheaper always seems to win.

  11. Scary to think that the next generation will probably think that sugar-laden products taste great….like what happened when cold-storage allowed fruit to get chilled to slow their aging…which is fine except that the fruit is picked unripe (prior to sufficient sugar content arriving in the product) so everything comes in tasting all so mediocre compared to fresh off the tree…and I hear tons of the “new generation” (which is my generation) say that this unripe fruit tastes great and so sweet…bogus!
    Now this sugar-fill snack stuff will taste “great” to the next generation, all because our bodies crave sugar and fat (as A.J. indicated above)

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