Incredible Shrinking Food Packages and Real Deals

My mini-rant of the week has to do with the ever shrinking pages and the manufactures that insist that this is what we the consumers want.  This is not new, I remember reading seeing it first with ice cream and orange juice and a great article in USA Today -  and the recent Mouse Print article on Orange Juice carton shrinkage.

I understand costs are increasing and margins are shrinking but the quote from the Customer Service Manager at Tropicana in response to the Mouse Print article takes the cake:

“Our consumer research shows that most shoppers, when given a choice between a price increase or slightly less contents, prefer to hold the line on prices.”

When does it just become a complete rip off?

I had an interesting experience this week in Wal-Mart when I went to grab some cereal.  I just did a quick glance at the category of cereal we like and I grabbed the box that I quickly noticed was 40% larger – then I noticed the box was not larger but the cranberries were larger.


My wife has trained me well to look at the per unit pricing and that is when I noticed the real price differences – and the size differences of 3 boxes that were the same size.

    Cranberry Almond Crunch – 13 oz
    Maple Pecan Crunch – 16 oz
    Banana Nut Crunch – 15.5 oz

Of course I went with the Maple Pecan Crunch in the end since it had the most for the same price. I was just curious so I looked at the rest of the cereal aisle and noticed something even more interesting. The box of cereal with the least volume (12 ounces) had the tallest box. It was at least ¼ inch taller than the other boxes but had the least cereal at 12 ounces.


Maybe if they would have framed the question to consumers about the package size as – “Would you be happy paying more for less product?” I think they would have changes their tune. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people notice unless they see a noticeable difference when one person radically changes the size of their box and ti stands out. Which is why the same size box can have as many as 8 different volumes of actual cereal. Maybe we will start seeing the potato chip rip off justification on the package – “sold by volume” since I guess we may need a lot of air space to protect cereal from breaking.

I just think people don’t read or compare volume of price until there is a real noticeable difference. Maybe that is why so many people buy things that are not really what they seem.

I had started a post a while back after another Wal-Mart experience where a mother and her daughter were arguing about how good a deal was for a brand of body wash. The mother insisted that they buy two since the deal was better if they did and the daughter tried to explain the price was the same if they just bought 1. The retail price was $3.50, yes a deal from the original price but the “2 for” deal was the same is they bought 1 or 2.