Shrinking Product Sizes

Less product for more money!

An insidious trend has emerged where companies are using sneaky ways of giving consumers less product by doing such things as putting deep indentions in the bottoms of containers, whipping air into products such as peanut butter and ice cream, and putting a higher ratio of propellant in aerosol spray cans. Plastic bags and wraps are thinner. Canned goods contain more water. Bags of things like chips are only half-full. Granola bars are smaller, rattling around in their half-empty boxes, and they contain more puffed rice and wheat to dilute the amount of nutritious ingredients. Companies often tout that their products contain less fat, but that is because the serving sizes have been reduced.

Product Old Size New Size Difference
Tropicana orange juice64 oz 59 oz -7.8%
Kraft American cheese24 slices22 slices-8.3%
Häagen-Dazs ice cream16 oz14 oz-12.5%
Hebrew National franks12 oz11 oz-8.3%
Ivory dish detergent30 oz 24 oz-20%
Chicken of the Sea salmon3 oz2.6 oz-13.3%

Most brands of coffee that used to be 16 oz have crept down to between and 11 oz or smaller package sizes. Scott toilet tissue went from 115.2 sq. ft to 104.8 sq. ft. by making their rolls narrower for a 9% reduction in product quantity. Lanacane first aid spray went from 113 grams to 99 grams for a 12.4% reduction in product quantity by using a higher percentage of propellant while keeping the same can size. Sneaky!

These are large percent cuts in product quantity that mean consumers are paying about 10% more if the price stays the same. Prices, however have been rising too, which means that we have been seeing price increases that far exceed, yet do not show up in government inflation figures.

What can you do?

Call the 800 number found on almost every product and register your complaint. Often, you will receive discount coupons. Buy private label brands from discount stores like dollar stores and pharmacy stores. Buy with coupons, or when products are on sale. Find deals, tax-free, and often with free shipping, online. Buy in bulk with friends, co-workers or family.

Use less of these products, which is probably healthier, since these are often highly processed foods with high fat, sugar, or salt content. Buy from local farmers markets or from pick-your-own farms or orchards. Grow a garden, or grow vegetables and herbs in containers. Join a co-op. Go fishing or hunting.