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April 16, 2018

Here We Downsize Again (2018) – Part 1

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

In the never ending saga of products shrinking in size as a means to pass on a sneaky price increase to consumers, we offer these three new ones thanks to our eagle-eyed readers.

John R. spotted this gem in the dairy case. As he points out, orange juice makers laid the groundwork for being a commonly downsized item when most brands discontinued half gallon containers in favor of 59 ounce ones. And now at least one big brand is at it again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Simply Orange

Simply Orange has just gone from 59 ounces down to 52 ounces. On its website, the company explains their decision:

The decision to reduce our 59-ounce PET package was made after careful consideration of the current cost pressures within our supply chain as well as clear data on consumer’s price preferences. We are committed to bringing quality juices and drinks to the market and have decided to reduce our 59-ounce PET package in order to keep prices fair for our loyal customers. As part of our ongoing commitment to keep shoppers well informed, we are communicating the new 52-ounce PET package size on the Simply website and we are making the package weight more prominent on our front-of-pack labeling.




The ever-shrinking toilet paper roll is getting smaller again, at least for purchasers of Quilted Northern. Our ace downsizing detective, Richard G., found the latest example.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Quilted Northern

The “mega” roll has gone from 330 sheets to 308 sheets.




Lastly, TRESemme shampoo has downsized at least one of its varieties again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tresemme

TRESemme

Most varieties of TRESemme were 32 ounces originally. Then they were downsized to 25 to 28 ounces depending on the type. Now a “new look” bottle signals yet another change — this time it is down to just 22 ounces for one variety.

Thanks to Richard G. for finding this latest change. If you spot a product that has shrunk in size, try to send a sharp picture of both the old and new package to Mouse Print*.




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March 5, 2018

A Different Kind of Downsizing

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:11 am

Christian M. wrote to us recently about a different kind of downsizing. It seems he purchased a canister of Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and noticed that it had been downsized.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lysol wipes

Both canisters have 80 sheets, but the net weight dropped two full ounces from 19.7 oz. to 17.7 oz.

Did they make each sheet smaller? A consumer can’t tell because unlike a package of paper towels, the dimensions of each sheet aren’t disclosed on the label. Or, did they put less Lysol disinfectant in the package? Who can tell?

Our consumer took pictures of the old and new wipes.

lysol wipes side by side

The old sheet, on top, is made of solid material, while the new sheet, which is slightly larger, appears to have a waffle weave, with pockets that are almost see-through.

We wrote to the PR folks at RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser) asking what was reduced — the amount of disinfectant, the weight of the wipes when dry, or both. Their spokesperson replied in part:

…the total weight of our Lysol Disinfecting Wipes product has been reduced due to recent innovation with the wipes themselves, while still providing the same cleaning power and unbeatable disinfection, killing 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.

In 2017, Lysol launched a new non-woven substrate, scientifically redesigned in cooperation with consumers, highlighting a ‘peaks and valleys’ pattern. The ratio of liquid and non-woven have been optimized to guarantee sufficient wetness for a precise cleaning and disinfection, while providing the benefit of “trapping and lifting messes”.

So, maybe it was a combination of less liquid and thinner sheets, but who knows.

As an aside, it does seem odd that this product category has net weight statements seemingly based on solid weight (wipes plus liquid combined). RB says the way they declare the contents is consistent with federal rules which do not require sheet size for this type of product.




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August 21, 2017

Pret a Manger Accused of Deceptive Sandwich Packaging

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:07 am

MrConsumer had occasion to eat at what he considers an expensive regional European sandwich shop last March called Pret a Manger. He discovered something sneaky about how they packaged their sandwich wraps.

Pret Bang Bang Chicken

Upon opening the package, one gets an unexpected surprise.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Pret revealed

What looked like a long wrap sandwich, potentially worth the $7.49 price, turns out to be two small halves that come nowhere close to filling the package. The “Lovingly Made” cardboard surrounding the middle of the sandwich hides the dirty little secret of the empty space between the two halves. I thought to myself — great — I have a good Mouse Print* story.

As we have discussed in the past, deceptive packaging can be illegal, particularly when there is nonfunctional empty space in the package. That’s called slack fill, and it tends to give consumers a misimpression about the actual contents of the package. It makes the consumer think there is more product inside than there really is.

Fast forward to this summer when a New York consumer purchased a different wrap at Pret and got snookered too. He thought to himself — great — and he filed a class action lawsuit a few weeks ago against the company claiming millions of dollars of losses suffered by purchasers of these kinds of wraps. His lawsuit claims that depending on the sandwich there can be up to two-and-a-half inches of empty space between the two halves. (See story in Gothamist.)

So we asked Pret about their reaction to the lawsuit and why they package their wraps in this deceptive manner. They did not respond.




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August 7, 2017

Here We Downsize Again – 2017 (Part 2)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

Like death and taxes, you can count on manufacturers to continue to shrink their products.

Mouse Print* reader Jack B. recently caught a change in Trident chewing gum.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Trident

Each package lost four sticks of gum, but each of the new sticks is slightly larger. The old sticks are 1.7 grams and the new ones are 1.9 grams:

stick size

However, with a product like chewing gum, it is the number of servings that matters, and each package now has four fewer servings.


 
Wishbone salad dressing recently came out with a new bottle, nearly identical to the old one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Wishbone dressing

As reader Jim H. wrote, apparently people were weary of hauling around the old, heavier bottles that had a full 16 ounces in them.


 
Remember when the standard size for a container of yogurt was eight ounces? That is long gone, with those dairy cups going down to six ounces years and years ago. But it has not stopped there. More recently, major brands have downsized again — this time to 5.3 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dannon

Three or four spoonfuls and you’re done. No wonder you’re still hungry.


 
Faithful reader and contributor Richard G. tipped us off about Febreze air and fabric freshener recently being downsized.

Febreze

Their spray bottles lost almost a full ounce. But I guess even if we make a big stink about, Febreze will just cover it up.


 
And in the never ending saga of the incredible shrinking toilet paper roll, Charmin is once again lopping off more sheets from each roll.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin

This time the double rolls went from 154 sheets down to only 142 sheets — or the equivalent of just 71 sheets on a regular roll. Just as a reminder, the original Charmin 40+ years ago had 600 or 650 single-ply sheets on a regular roll. Mr. Whipple is turning over in his grave.

Thanks to Richard G. for the tip, and we welcome you to submit your finds as well to Edgar(at symbol)ConsumerWorld.org .




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July 3, 2017

Toilet Paper Roll Claims Roil

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:10 am

Have you made a trip down the toilet paper aisle recently? MrConsumer did last week at Target. There were 11 different size packages of just one variety of Charmin (Ultra Soft) on display.

Charmin Ultra Soft

The big bold numbers on them made little sense. One said “12 = 27” but another said “12 = 54.” One said “18 = 72” but another nearby package proclaimed that “18 = 82.” One package declared that “8 = 36” but at Stop & Shop “9 = 36.” It must be the new math.

Toilet paper numbers

*MOUSE PRINT:

Of course, when you check the fine print on the label you discover a little more about the basis of comparison. All dozen packages compare the number of rolls in that particular package to how many “regular” rolls it is the equivalent of. Regular rolls? Do regular rolls even exist any more? They’re hard to find, and the package looks like a toy. But here it is — a package of four regular rolls of Charmin (before two additional downsizings brought the number of sheets per roll down to a meager 71). The package is only slightly taller than a dollar bill.

Charmin regular rolls

Why does P&G compare each package to a virtually non-existent product that people are no longer familiar with? It makes no sense, except to make you think you are getting more than you really are.

While that second number in the comparison always relates to “regular” rolls, the first number does not relate to the same size roll. Sometimes it means double rolls, double rolls “plus,” mega rolls, or mega rolls “plus.” Does anyone have the sizes of these memorized so that the comparison is meaningful? These are all made up names with an ever-changing number of sheets on each roll. And during a period of downsizing of Charmin, which we are in the midst of, it is even more confusing. There are two “12 = 54” packages noted above. One has 352 sheets per roll, and the other only 326, yet they are both called “double plus” rolls.

How confusing can you get? These comparisons are meaningless to most shoppers, yet the major makers of paper products like toilet paper and paper towels continue to play this game and emphasize these confusing numbers in ever bigger and bigger print.

Here’s a novel idea: just tell us how many rolls are in the package and how many sheets are on each roll. And put that in big print.




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