Here We Downsize Again – Summer 2021 (Part 1)

As inflation rears its ugly head, manufacturers have to decide whether they will raise prices, shrink their products, or possibly even do both. With so much publicity about “shrinkflation” over the past month, more shoppers are finding new examples. We have our ace downsizing sleuth, Richard G., to thank for spotting the items below, which you may find changing on store shelves right now.

General Mills Family Size Cereals

General Mills has gone overboard in the past few weeks downsizing variety after variety of their popular brands of breakfast cereals.

General Mills cerealsClick picture above, then again to enlarge to see net weights

cheerios

*MOUSE PRINT:

One example is Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. The 20.1 ounce box got half an inch taller, but lost 1.1 ounces making it 19 ounces now. That is a loss of one bowl of cereal in each box — the equivalent of a 27 cent price increase. (The packages shown were all on sale for $3.99.) The other brands shown were reduced between 0.5 ounces and 1.2 ounces. Think how much General Mills is saving when you multiply that times millions or tens of millions of boxes.


Gold Peak Tea

Coca Cola, which owns the Gold Peak tea brand, is in the process of downsizing their bottles from half a gallon (64 oz.) to just 59 ounces. Both bottles were on sale for $2.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Gold Peak Tea


Scott Shop Towels

These paper towels that are sold at hardware and auto supply stores have changed also. But look at the pictures. They both have 55 towels per roll (at an outrageous price of $3.99 each). So what’s going on here?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Scott shop towels

Scott lopped off one inch from each sheet, so instead of each one being 10.4 inches long, the new ones are only 9.4 inches. That’s a loss of about four-and-a-half feet of paper towels per roll.


If you find an item that has been downsized, please try to take a sharp picture of the old and new packages and email them to Edgar (at symbol) MousePrint.org . Thanks.

Goya: We Use Only #1 Grade Beans*?

Goya has run a few TV commercials that tout the quality of their chickpeas. Here’s one of them.

Goya claims it “uses only U.S. #1 grade beans*.” But that pesky asterisk suggests there’s more to the story.

MOUSE PRINT*:

Goya uses #1 beans

That almost impossible to read fine print disclaimer says:

“As defined by the USDA, when mother nature permits.”

What does that mean? The claim sounds aspirational — we’ll try to provide you with top quality beans except if the crop we harvest isn’t so great.

The USDA has very specific regulations for when a batch of beans can be labeled U.S. No. 1, 2, or 3. It all has to do with the number of defects and damaged beans in the batch, as well as the presence of foreign objects.

MOUSE PRINT*:

USDA chickpea grades

We asked the folks at Goya what their fine print exception meant, and how often they have a bad harvest. They did not respond.

Goya seems to be making a habit of bucking the system. They were challenged by a competitor over claims that their pasta was the favorite of Puerto Rico. Two arms of the BBB ruled again them.

Slack-Fill Case Against Barilla Dismissed

Five years ago, a group of New York consumers sued Barilla claiming that their pasta packages were misleading. In their complaint, they demonstrated that the company used the same size boxes even though the contents varied from 12 to 16 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Barilla pasta
Barilla spaghetti

Putting 12 ounces of spaghetti in a box made for a full pound can well be classified as “slack fill.” That term refers to the nonfunctional empty air space in a product package that can lead shoppers to believe they are getting more content than they actually are because of the size of the package. Most boxed pasta sold is 16 ounces.

We thought this case had been settled in 2019 as we reported at the time because they seemingly came to agreement to have the company place a disclosure and a fill-line on each box. But recently the plaintiffs dismissed their case against Barilla without explanation. We asked two law firms involved in the litigation why the case was withdrawn but neither responded. The lead attorney on the case passed away in January, so perhaps that is a reason.

Using underfilled pasta boxes is not only an issue with Barilla products but with other name and store brands as well. The lesson: don’t assume you are getting a full pound… read the net weight statement.