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Here We Downsize Again — Year-End 2021

NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will be published on January 10.

We end the year with another round of products that have been downsized from their former larger-size packages. Of course, the new-fangled name for this is “shrinkflation.” But, no matter what you call it, it still is a sneaky way to pass on a price increase.

Crest Toothpaste

I don’t know how anyone can keep track of toothpaste tube sizes these days. They just keep getting smaller and smaller. Here, Crest 3D White lost over eight percent of its contents, going from 4.1 ounces to just 3.8. Thanks to Richard G. for spotting this change.


Crest 3D White

Milky Way

Candy is another big category for downsizing. This time, it is Milky Way Fun Size bars that went from 11.24 oz. down to 10.65 oz. There is just a little less fun in each bag. Thanks to M.F. for spotting the change.


Milky Way


Even the stately boxes of Earl Grey tea by Twinings got hit by the shrink-ray, it appeared, according to reader M.F. In this case, it looked like the 25-count boxes were downsized to just 20.


Twinings tea

However, a representative for Twinings just reached out to us to say that Twinings tea has NOT in fact been downsized. They apparently sell both the 20 and 25-count boxes of tea bags to different retailers. So depending on where you shop, you may find either the smaller box or the larger one. We regret the error.

Gain Detergent

P&G apparently has been tinkering with the cup size or the formula for Gain laundry detergent. The new bottles contain 11 ounces less than the old ones, but supposedly you still get the same 107 loads out of every container. Of course, no one ever gets the number of loads promised on the label out of a bottle of detergent. That count is usually for a tiny load only when filling the cup a fraction of the way up to a line that is virtually invisible.


Gain detergent


Finally, if all these shrinking products give you a headache, don’t turn to the 100-caplet size bottles of Aleve. They now only have 90 pills.



Kirkland Paper Towels UPsized

Last May, we showed you how Costco had downsized their Kirkland paper towels from 160 sheets on a roll to 140. [Original story] Well, fast-forward to this past September, and reader David F. reported that Costco had restored the missing 20 sheets to their paper towel rolls, so they are back up to 160 sheets. Perhaps it was all the bad publicity that surrounded that downsizing that convinced the company to bring back the previous larger size. In any event, hat’s off to Costco.

Kirkland paper towels

If you find an example of a product that has downsized, please submit a sharp photo of the old and new packages side-by-side to Edgar (at symbol) MousePrint.org . Thanks.

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13 thoughts on “Here We Downsize Again — Year-End 2021”

  1. At least Twining’s was honest enough to change their package size to reflect the reduced contents. I’d love to know what the original amounts were of all these products before the very first downsizing. Perhaps Crest was 6 oz? Milky Way 12 oz?

    • Well Deborah if they did not cut the size of the box we would get into a slackfill problem which is not good at all.

      Smaller sized boxes are more wasteful than bigger ones imo when downsizing occurs.

  2. Yeah a super late end of 2021 Downsizing article…

    I wonder though if companies fully think about the added waste that occurs due to downsizing a product.

    If we go back to the Here We Downsize (and UP-size) Again — Spring 2021 from May 10, 2021 post we had the downsizing of Wheat Thins

    The 16oz package was 6.75 x 2.25 x 9.50 Inches in size.
    The new 14oz package is 6.75 x 2.25 x 9.0 Inches in size.

    The Package size for one box of 16oz is 144.28125 square inches
    The Package size for one box of 14oz is 136.6875 square inches

    14 packages of the 16oz gives us 2019.9375 square inches of space
    16 packages of the 14oz gives us 2187 square inches of space

    The difference is 167.0625 square inches of space which is over 1 full box of wasted space, all the wasted carboard, and wasted inner packaging just to get the same ounces of Wheat Thins.

    • I complained about the added waste issue in the previous downsizing article a few months back. It’s not only added waste, but added materials and energy to make more boxes and bottles to zoom down the production line and be carried in trucks and stored in warehouses. Those boxes and bottles are often not reduced in size or not reduced proportionately to the smaller space taken up by the product. And let’s not even mention the extra time and energy involved in buying and storing more of these products on the consumer end. This is an environmental issue as well but no one is looking at it that way, obviously except for me and you.

  3. The Costco one is an interesting story, I’m surprised they changed it back. The one thing I will say about Costco is, at our local Costco market, they actually had signs posted around the paper towels area calling out the specific change made to the packaging, so they did downsize it, but they at least weren’t being deceitful about it.

      • Mary,

        We actually have Bounty paper towels from Costco right now because the last time we went there they were out of the Kirkland brand. I prefer the Kirkland brand, they are different texture, but both are high quality and absorbent, but I prefer the towel size and texture of Kirkland brand.

  4. In addition to downsizing Safeway Albertsons is also making us buy more product as in must by 3 to get the sale price. Well that doesn’t work for some of us older folks that don’t use 3

  5. Hats off to Costco for upping their paper towel count, but has anyone measured the size of the new towels compared to the old ones? Because they often shrink the size of each sheet, then up the sheet count, then pat themselves on the back for giving you “more sheets”. Yeah, more sheets, but the same or less square footage. They’re sneaky.

  6. I think once one company downsizes, the others follow suit because they don’t want customers to think the competing product costs less. Maybe the government should come up with standardized “cost per unit” labeling similar to standardized nutrition labels. Many stores do that math for you on the shelf label, but it’s non-standard. Having a standard label right on the box might push back against the pressure to match a downsize.

    • Marc… I think close to a dozen states have unit pricing laws setting out specific rules for shelf labels. Another bunch have voluntary rules. The federal government – the National Institute of Standards — did put out a book on best practices for stores that unit price a few years ago. (I was on the advisory committee for it.)

      • That’s great. That could be expanded to an on-package requirement. I think right now, a lot of people don’t look at the shelf labels and the text is often very small.

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