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Our shrinking products

Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011, at 10:38 AM

Things are getting tough all over.

Groceries, too, are being downsized.

This week I bought a half gallon of orange juice. Or I thought I did.

However, the Florida's Natural juice is now 59 fluid ounces, and Tropicana premium orange juice now contains 59 ounces, replacing its old 64 ounces.

Problem is, while some products are shrinking, the price remains the same.

Coffee that used to come in three pound tins, is now two pounds, 2.5 ounces. The new plastic resealable containers are certainly convenient, but they don't hold as much coffee. A pound of coffee is actually 10.3 ounces.

A five pound bag of sugar is now four pounds. A pound of bacon, often isn't.

Manufacturers have been shaving ounces and inches off packaging for sometime now.

It's happening with toothpaste, tuna fish, toilet paper, hot dogs, yogurt, charcoal, dog food, and hand soap. The Dorito bag has shrunk too, and Frito-Lay has fewer chips per bag.

And have you noticed that a bar of soap is smaller, including Dial soap.

Ivory dish detergent has reduced its 30 ounces to 24 ounces.

Many major ice cream makers, hit by higher dairy costs, have shrunk containers to 1.5 quarts from 1.75 quarts, about a cup less.

A jar of Hellman's mayonnaise that was 32 ounces is now 30.

Boxes of cereal are shrinking too. Kellogg has downsized Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Mini-wheats.

Shedd's Spread Country Crock was shrunk from 48 ounces to 45, due to higher commodity and energy costs.

Bounty cut the number of paper towels in a roll from 60 to 52. Scott 1000 toilet tissue is reduced from 115.2 square feet to 104.8 square feet.

Kraft singles American cheese has gone from 24 slices down to 22 slices.

Manufacturers cite rising costs for ingredients and energy.

I guess I understand all that. It's just an economic fact.

Transportation prices are skyrocketing, fuel costs more, and they have to pass the price along. Also more plastic packaging is being used. Bottles and cans are thinner in order to shave manufacturing costs.

What I don't like is deceptive packaging, such as adding indentation to the bottom of a container or bottle so that there appears to be more product than there is. Or making subtle curves in a bottle, such as hand soap, to distract the eye from the fact the product is smaller.

What can the consumer do to get the best bargain? First, read the labels. Use cents off coupons and buy products that are on sale. For some, buying in bulk might be wise.

Switching to private label products instead of brand names might be a good choice. Some of the store brands are just as good as brand names. I personally prefer Best Choice products, over some brand names. There's also Always Save and Value Mart.

If you've noticed, many canned goods no longer contain a pound. I just checked my food pantry and found that VanCamp's pork and beans net weight is 15 ounces. Best Choice whole kernel corn is 15.25 ounces and Del Monte diced tomatoes is 14.5 ounces. Armour chili with beans is now 15 ounces, not 16 ounces.

Just last week I opened a can of brand name green beans and I was shocked at how few beans there were in all the water.

Have you also noticed in recent months that several nationally syndicated magazines are shrinking too. They are slimmer, more streamlined with fewer pages than previously published.

Reader's Digest is now combining two months into one issue. The over the counter price is $3.99 per issue. And there are fewer pages than in years gone by.

Birds & Blooms now publishes six issues yearly for $3.99 per issue.

AARP, the world's largest circulation magazine, has followed suit with combined issues at a cost of $4.50 per issue.

All these companies do offer reduced rates to customers who order by mail.

As consumers we need to pay attention, and shop wisely, less we get nicked in the shaving.

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Dear Sylvie,

Your comment certainly does not affect my enjoyment of Reader's Digest. I have been reading the magazine for half a century. However, I have noticed in recent years that the magazine is slimmer, thinner than it was in past years, with fewer pages. Up until 2009 the frequency of 12 issues per year did not change. However, as you stated, the magazine now publishes 10 issues per year. That was pointed out to me by my son who ordered a subscription for me and other family members last year. My DEC.2010/JAN.2011 issue was combined. I am pleased you read my blog. PJ

-- Posted by billy066@centurytel.net on Fri, Feb 18, 2011, at 2:29 PM

My name is Sylvie. I work for Reader's Digest in Customer Care and I just came across your Blog post.

I would like to address your comment about us publishing double issues for Reader's Digest. I can assure you that this is not something we have done up to now. We did reduce the frequency from 12 issues to 10 issues per year in 2009. While the cover price has not changed at newsstands, the subscription rate has been reduced to reflect fewer issues within a one year period.

As for the page count, it does vary from issue to issue. This is true of all magazines.

I hope this will not affect your enjoyment of our magazine.

Sylvie Robert

E-Care Coordinator

-- Posted by SylvieRD on Mon, Feb 14, 2011, at 12:38 PM

The worst part of all that shaving is the consumer price index will remain the same as the previous years. The years just prior to when our food products started being downsized. Therefore the CPI will not show inflation and people on Social Security will go another year or more without a cost of living raise. The same will be for workers in the factories and all blue collar workers. No inflation, no increase in CPI and no increases in wages. But the cost of living will increase because consumers will have to replaced those products more often.

That makes me wonder if the Federal government didn't have an influential hand in helping producers make the decision to downsize packaging. I can't believe the cost of packaging material, fuel, energy, ingredients, etc. in most cases have much of an impact on production and transporting products.

It cost the same to transport 40,000 pounds of sugar no matter if its packed in 4 pound bags or 5 pound bags. It takes the same amount of energy to produce

40,000 pounds of coffee no matter the size of the packaging. Actually, the bigger the packaging of the coffee, the less the cost of energy to produce and package the coffee. Buying in bulk quantity is how a lot of consumers save on their grocery bill.

Roger Riney

-- Posted by Roger Riney on Sun, Feb 6, 2011, at 1:14 AM

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