Consumer Watch: Shrinking Sizes

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

It seems like everyone in America is consumed with shrinking. Their waistlines, that is. One of the ways to succeed at weight loss is to buy healthier grocery products, and based on the increase in healthier options we’re seeing in grocery stores,  the food industry has also caught on to this trend and intends to capitalize on it.  There’s another food trend the industry is adopting that is less beneficial to your financial waistline, however: shrinking product sizes.

Shrinking the size of the packaging in food products isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is not only more eco-friendly by creating less materials that only end up in landfills; it saves storage space and transportation costs, and reduces operational costs for food manufacturers. This (hopefully) passes down to the consumer in the form of reduced retail prices. The problem is that many food manufacturers have begun to produce exactly the same size packaging that contains less product, while charging the same price.

Be Aware
Yes, that’s right. If you hadn’t already noticed, many items in the grocery store contain as much as several ounces less, while being packaged in exactly the same sized container as before. Just looking at the package won’t indicate there’s been any change. This isn’t something you’ll necessarily notice without taking the time to do so, because when manufacturers create updated versions of their products, retailers sell through and discontinue the previous version. One way to check would be to look at containers of shelf-stable products you’ve had for a while and compare them with those currently on the shelf. You can also examine the evidence gathered by people who’ve already done the research, on sites such as or

If you ask me, this under-handed practice seems extremely sneaky and should be protested. At the very least, you won’t want want to continue to fall prey to this manufacturing and retailing tactic. It’s true that grocery prices, in general, have risen with the cost of living.  I would expect to pay more for a product if it now costs more to make. I don’t expect to pay more-per-ounce for a product that contains less but is deceitfully presented in the same sized packaging.

Here are a few more ways to prevent shrinking products from shrinking your grocery budget.

Always look at the price per unit.
This not only helps you decide which size of a product to purchase (sometimes certain ‘bonus sizes’ aren’t really a bonus when you compare the cost per unit), but whether you’re actually paying a higher price for less product. Most shelf labels in grocery stores contain this information. If not, you can use the calculator on your phone to quickly divide the price of the item by the weight in ounces.

Comparison shop, shop sale ads, and use coupons.
One simple way to beat unfair pricing is to refuse to pay full price, ever. Other than perhaps your staples, purchase items only when they are on sale, and stock up so your supply will last until the next wave of sales for that type of product. Getting into couponing is a great way to raise your awareness of the seasonal fluctuation of sales so you can plan your shopping and menus accordingly.

Take action.

If you are disturbed by these changes in packaging and pricing, notify the manufacturers that are making them. Making phone calls and writing letters can be an effective way to let food manufacturers and retailers know you’re aware of the deceit and place pressure on them to stop.  If nothing else, you’ll probably get some good coupons out of the effort.

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

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