New, Taller Honey Nut Cheerios Box Is 1.5 Oz Lighter

Frugal Frugalson over at Picking up Nickles made a side-by-side comparison of General Mills’ newer “Right Size, Right Price” cereal boxes. Apparently, the right size is 1.5 oz less, and the right price is about 9% more.

Donning my detective’s cap, I found that the 14oz box of General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios at my local market had been replaced by a 12.5oz box for the same $2.99 price. That works out to a 8.9% price increase, which is a bit larger than the average price increase of 2.9% claimed in this New York Times article.

To add insult to injury, General Mills designed the 12.5oz box so that it appears to be larger on the shelf than the old 14oz box since the new packaging is taller and thinner than its predecessor.

We have seen this shadow inflation before with Cadbury eggs and Charmin Ultra Big Rolls. One way to fight back: buy a year’s worth of cereal at once. Thanks to our February trip to Rite Aid, we’re still rolling in 14 oz boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Grocery price inflation update [Picking up Nickles]
PREVIOUSLY: General Mills Will Decrease The Size Of Cereal Boxes, Raise Prices

Comments

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  1. DadCooks says:

    Everything is shrinking, recent examples:
    – 1/2 gallon ice cream, now 1.75 qt
    – 1# block of cheese, now 12 oz.
    – 4.5 in. x 4.5 in. 650-sheet toilet paper, now 4.0 x 4.5 500-sheet
    and on and on…

    This decrease in amount of product for the same or more money totally makes a joke out of the government’s inflation figures.

    For those of us who shop, we know prices are going up far faster than the “inflation rate”. When I was a “baggy boy” in the 60s a $100.00 grocery bill was a big deal–two+ overloaded carts! Now $100.00 is two large paper bags.

  2. 82300sd says:

    Too bad 95% of the people buying cereal will be scammed into buying the bigger box and will never know the difference. Sure consumers should read the ounces, but I think trying to trick people is just unethical. As consumers, vote with your pocketbook, don’t buy GM cereals.

  3. Anonymous says:

    i always do the math to see how much per ounce/gram/lb, etc. thats how i was taught to shop by my mother.

  4. blue_duck says:

    I save by not buying Honey-Nut Cheerios altogether.

  5. Rando says:

    Huge bags of generic cereal which tastes exactly the same FTW!

  6. bsankr says:

    Actually, I tried to do the Malt-O-Meal Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but it wasn’t the same so I buy the double-bag boxes from Sam’s now (which still come out to be a little cheaper than the MOM cereal, anyway).

  7. twstinkers says:

    Everything is shrinking. I remember not too long ago when Dannon yogurt was 99 cents for eight ounces. They cut that to 6 ounces, charged 75 cents but slowly creeped the price back up to 99 cents within months. What a ripoff, just like everything else…

  8. Raziya says:

    I’ve been noticing this trend lately, and it really bothers me…not just GM doing this either. I do pricing at a grocery store and for months we had been raising tons and tons of prices…and now we’re doing a program LOWERING thousands of prices…well…guess which ones are being lowered. The ones that were raised in the first place! I think that kind of business is shady. :| Boo to everyone for raising the prices on food just because they know they can.

  9. Buran says:

    As if cereal doesn’t cost way too freaking much already…

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m just waiting for a burst graphic on the boxes saying, “New – TALLER!!”

  11. I knew that fucking bee was up to no good

  12. mxx says:

    GM is doing the same thing with Total serial.
    old shorter box with Total Raisin Bran weight 18.25oz
    new taller box weight 17.1oz but cost more

  13. Boulder Guy says:

    Um, that NY Times article that Picking Up Nickles linked to is from August 1995. Sheesh.

  14. JohnnyE says:

    $2.99 for a 12.5/14oz box? Either way it’s a rip-off. What sucker pays those prices for crap, cold food full of sugar and chemicals.

    For 3 bucks, you can buy over 3lbs of bulk oats — organic at Whole Foods even — and have enough breakfast stuff for probably close to half a year. Add some cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, raisins, sunflower seeds and soymilk and you have something not only a real hot meal that’s cheap and nutritious, but tasty too.

    Of course, you have to spend a whole 3 minutes cooking it. ZOMG! How will the need for immediate gratification survive?

  15. Dustbunny says:

    @JohnnyE:

    But…but…I *like* Honey Nut Cheerios. Sniff. Does Trader Joe’s make anything that tastes sorta like Cheerios?

  16. Namilia says:

    @INconsumer: I actually taught my mom to shop like that :P I noticed that the price tags have in small print below the price the price per ounce.

  17. Lee2706 says:

    @Dustbunny: TJ’s makes something called “Honey Nut O’s”, 13.5 oz box, is like $2.29 a box I think.

    The box label does include an apostrophe in the “O’s” which is incorrect, no? Doesn’t an apostrophe indicate possession or a contraction? Please correct me, oh gods of grammar.

  18. timmus says:

    According to an Aug 27 Forbes article, consumers ate this Right Size Right Price thing right up. It’s kind of depressing that no matter how many Consumerist sites you put online, there are still millions and millions out there who will obediently run the corporate treadmills.

  19. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Raziya:

    Smart move on your store’s part (well…smart move undoing the stupid one).

    There was a supermarket in Fairbanks, Alaska…the only one in the old downtown area, and I think the oldest. As long as I could remember it was Carr’s Foodland, then when Safeway bought Carr’s, they had to sell that store.

    So then it became “Alaskamart” or somesuch. And the new management raised the prices on EVERYTHING. Well, everything that didn’t have a price printed on the package. I mean like 10-20 percent across the board.

    IIRC, they didn’t even last 6 months.

    (Hey, it wasn’t THAT far to the next supermarket)

  20. SOhp101 says:

    Cereal is a rip off. Go eat some steel-cut oatmeal.

  21. edrebber says:

    I always buy the store brand of cereal. Why pay for advertising?

  22. Anonymous says:

    @edrebber: I’ve found the store brands to not always taste good or contain unacceptable ingredients.

  23. Electroqueen says:

    @Sohp101

    I agree. Nothing like a bowl of bittersweet oatmeal to start the day. Puts some fire in the belly.

  24. ludwigk says:

    @Lee2706: Trader Joe’s Os don’t taste very similar to Cheerios. To my palate, they taste like cardboard

    @JohnnyE: Meh, I find rolled oats to be pretty lacking. I eat a lot of steel cut, which has a much larger time investment. But when you’re jonesing for a bowl of honey nut cheerios, oatmeal doesn’t do anything for you.

  25. ludwigk says:

    @CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER: RTFA! The NY Times article 2.9% price increase refers to the wholesale price increase, not what the consumer will see.

  26. Chicago7 says:

    @Lee2706:

    The apostrophe could be showing a letter missing, “Ohs” becomes “O’s”!

  27. Chicago7 says:

    You have a detective cap? Dang! I’ve got get one of those – it could save me a lot of money.

    /Is it a Deerstalker?

    :D

  28. SimonSwegles says:

    I wouldn’t mind a simple portion reduction on portion-packaged items. Americans have a tendency to overeat simply because bigger portions are put in front of us. Reduced portioning may improve our health. But raising the price at the same time is bullshit.

  29. Red_Eye says:

    Probably related to the shrinking serving size that the cereal companies did to get by advertising to kids as has been reported here before [consumerist.com] The could be trying to hide the serving size shift by keeping the number of servings per box the same? Just a thought.

    You did announce they would be doing this though back in june….

  30. SOhp101 says:

    @Electroqueen: I might be a little old fashioned, but not that hardcore! I prefer a little brown sugar and peanut butter in mine. Mmmmmm…

  31. TeraGram says:

    The Trader Joe’s version is very tasty and in the opinion of my seven year old, BETTER than the Cheerios product.

  32. wakebrdr says:

    have any of you ever heard of inflation?

  33. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I don’t eat this cereal, and when I eat any cereal, it’s generic or on clearance, but I can tell you this: General Mills will solemnly intone, when asked, that they polled consumers, and consumers *wanted* this change. Then they’ll throw in something about the great value their cereal offers, and how good it is for you, and go right back to doing this.
    If you’d like them to stop (hiding price increases by shrinking the packaging instead of honestly raising the price), buy your cereal (and everything else applicable) by the ounce. Look at those handy dandy price breakdowns at your local grocery store, or bring a calculator.

  34. UnnamedUser says:

    Ha! Suckers all.

    50 pounds rolled oats: $22.00
    [www.naturalgrocers.com]
    Compare that with Quaker’s product on your local grocer’s shelf. Grocery store prices are an absolute outrage!

    Better still: You can get 50 pounds of rolled oats intended for animal consumption (horse feed) at your local farm supply store for about $12 these days. So, what’s a little mouse dung among friends.

    Variety? COB (Corn Oats Barley) rolled like rolled oats is $10.00 at my local feed store now.

    There are hundreds of things you can do with rolled oats besides oatmeal, granola being the one that comes to mind right up front. … Oh! Cook 2 cups rolled oats like you would for oatmeal. Let it cool. Add 2 cups flour (25 pounds flour at my local restaurant supply vendor yesterday was $8.77), yeast, salt. Make bread. … Let it rise. Bake it off. Good oat bread: high fiber; low fat.

    The price of grocery store breakfast cereal is so beyond reason that I just don’t buy it. I haven’t bought any since 1978. And won’t until prices are in line with reality.

    50 pounds is too much! Storage problem? Goes stale? Split it with neighbors, silly. Do your own co-op with neighbors. You’ll all save money.

    Betcha my grocery bill is less than yours and I eat better than you do too.

  35. Rusted says:

    It’s awful hard to fry cereal.

  36. TonyTriple says:

    Hrm…did the writer of this article find out if the box is any more edible? Maybe, bear with me, maybe the box can now be eaten or is more tasty than its predecessors. That would make the price increase totally worth it, right?

  37. cabinaero says:

    It’s not like General Mills tried to hide the price change; it was well covered by the trade press and general media (it was on NPR and in the business sections of both major Twin Cities papers). The Consumerist itself covered the story months ago and linked to a WSJ article which spells out the price per ounce increase, “By reducing the size of its cereal boxes, General Mills will be selling less for more. The new, smaller boxes will mean a low single-digit percentage increase in the price per ounce of such well-known cereal …”

    For the record: I work for one of General Mills’ suppliers but we only saw a minor uptick in our General Mills work from the retooling. (Most of the size changes were timed to coincide with brand redesigns or other required changes.)

  38. dirk1965 says:

    As long as they are not leading people to believe that you are getting more by the taller size by labeling it as such, they are within their right to package however they want. Its the consumers fault for not looking at net weight and price!

  39. Red_Eye says:

    @dirk1965: Thats the only problem I have with them changing in this manner. Lets keep it the same #$@#%$ size and just be honest that you are going to pay more per ounce for the cereal, not try to disguise it.

  40. cabinaero says:

    Actually the taller size lets them fit more product on the shelf. They converted some of the depth into height, letting them fit more boxes into the same amount of shelf space as before.

    The larger face panels might con some people into thinking they are getting more product for the same price, but the net weight is very clearly printed in 3/16″ type.

  41. jeffjohnvol says:

    I don’t think its a profit grab by General Mills. Cereal grains are costing more across the board. The drive to use more and more methanol is causing the price of corn to double. Even if cheerio’s don’t use corn, many wheat farmers are switching to corn as a crop due to the increase cost.

    Brace yourself people corn is in almost 70% of everthing we consume due to corn sweeteners. A Taco Bell (for example) is affected greatly, because it affects the price of torillas, chips, chicken, beef, pepsi products which all use corn.

  42. jeffjohnvol says:

    I never buy something by the size of the box. The cost/unit is the method to go by. Thats why I love Krogers, they always show the breakdown. (for example) The medium size of picante sauce is the best deal, because the larger size cost more per ounce.

  43. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @UnnamedUser: What about those of us who think Oatmeal is F’in gross! I hate oatmeal in all its shapes and forms. Doesen’t matter what you toss in it it still tastes like crap. While I do not eat breakfast everyday, a cup of cereal is a lot better than a egg mcmuffin…

  44. hoosier45678 says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: You do all you can do, which is to say: “Fuck it. I can afford 30 cents for a meal.” Unless you eat a box a day, this isn’t the first place to economize your shopping. Better to spend money on things you’d actually eat in order to avoid the drive through at the arches.

  45. metoometoo says:

    Weirdly, my first response to this was, “No, not taller boxes! Anything but taller boxes!” Half my cereal boxes are already propped on an awkward slant because my shelves aren’t tall enough. And it really, really bothers me, apparently.

  46. toddr4fun says:

    the boxes are now 7.4 oz–for the same price as the (now) old