New Parkay, Now With More Air and Less Margarine

Reader Rich says:
I’ve been a fan and loyal devotee of Parkay Margarine since I was a kid. Imagine the letdown and disappointment when I picked up a new tub of the margarine and felt it was remarkably lighter in weight. It looks like whipping a bunch of air into a pound of margarine makes it 20% lighter and the same cost to the consumer. After searching all over for a tub of “original” to compare it to, I found that the “new” Parkay is now 13 ounces instead of 16 ounces. Not only that, but it comes in the same sized tub and costs the same too.

Further investigation shows no reference to this “new” spread on the Parkay Website and no “original” to be found anywhere.

Bummer…

Rich H
Grand Rapids, MI

It seems that “new” Parkay contains a different amount of vegetable oil as well. We’re not familiar with Parkay, what’s going on here?

parkay2.jpg

Comments

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  1. UESC says:

    :(

  2. Bladefist says:

    maybe its 20% less fat

  3. Black Bellamy says:

    It’s the same shit they’re all pulling. Whether is cookies or cereal or detergent or fucking margarine, they give you less in the same box at the same price.

  4. Atlien says:

    Switch to Blueband from Kenya, best margarine ever!

  5. Pylon83 says:

    It’s simply a reaction to inflation. Either they can raise the price and piss people off, or they can keep the price the same and lower the quantity. I’m not saying it isn’t a bit deceptive, but it also isn’t too much to expect customers to read the quantity description on the package. Should the manufacturers be expected to make big signs, or prominently display the fact that there is less product in it on the packaging? No, that would be unreasonable. They do note on the package that there is less in it now, and the price is the same. I imagine they did research/studies, etc. that showed that doing it this way produced less angry customers than raising the price.

  6. DallasDMD says:

    “No, that would be unreasonable”

    Yeah, responsibility is unreasonable in our version of capitalism. Always deception and trickery.

  7. b612markt says:

    This isn’t going to stop. I bet this has been going on for centuries.

  8. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @b612markt:

    Yes, orginally margarine only came in 20 lb tubs. :D

  9. DudeLebowski says:

    Isn’t this the same kind of downsizing seen in the Dial soap post from a few days ago? I guess the only difference is that there is no “new and improved” feature for the margarine to put on the label.

  10. Flossie says:

    Does this affect the Parkay tub’s ability to talk and freak people out?

  11. Android8675 says:

    Stuff is bad for you anyways, this should help you eat less.

  12. coan_net says:

    This is happening to many products – why? Because it cost them more to get the raw goods – and ship them. So they have a few choices:

    1. Make a smaller package and sell at same price (customers see this as bad)

    2. Put less in the same package and sell at same price (most customers won’t even notice this)

    3. Put the same amount in the same package and raise prices (Ohhh.. customers hate this)

    4. Do some sort of “new” product, change it just enough to call it something different – making it look “new & improved” all at the same time putting less into the original size package (most customers won’t even notice the change in amount)

    Anyway – They need to do something since there costs went up – so you will find most will do either 2 or 4….. why? Because those will be accepted my most customers. (this article did the #4 route – the recent Jimmy Dean article did the #2 route. I’m sure there are many products that have done this, or are in the process of doing this.)

  13. davidc says:

    “Should the manufacturers be expected to make big signs, or prominently display the fact that there is less product in it on the packaging?”

    Yes …

    Why? cause it’s technically not the ‘same’ product as before … it’s a new (aka: Different) product. Not alerting people to the change is akin to bait and switch.

    This is especially bad when they *only* change the quantity / weight of a product … vs changing the formulation of the product.

  14. Freedomboy says:

    Hey World Wide Webbers does this go on in Europe?

  15. eelmonger says:

    The new tub says it’s 58% vegetable oil spread while the old tub says 53%. I don’t really know what that means because I detest margarine; Alton Brown taught me that it is the tool of the devil.

  16. obfusciatrist says:

    Don’t know what difference it makes to weight but one says it is “53% vegetable oil spread” and the other says it is “58% whipped vegetable oil spread.”

    I guess I’d have to think if weight or volume is what is important to me when it comes to butter/margarine. If it covers the same amount of toast and tastes essentially the same then I don’t really care if it weighs less in one form.

  17. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    @DallasDMD:
    The only way to be responsible is to prominently announce that the size of the package is reduced? Please say this out loud, it might help you figure out how dumb that sounds.

  18. DallasDMD says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: Thats not what I said or implied.

    The honest and responsible thing is to either raise the price for the same amount or stop resorting to trickery to fool people into thinking they’re buying the same amount of product.

    I guess honesty is too much to ask for.

  19. Myron says:

    Well, the new package says:

    “New – Fresh and creamy taste”

    Therefore, the old Parkay had “stale and watery taste”. So you got that going for you.

  20. davidc says:

    “why? Because it cost them more to get the raw goods – and ship them … 2. Put less in the same package and sell at same price (most customers won’t even notice this)”

    That is dishonest and when customers do find out, they get even more mad … hence submissions to this web site.

    Reality is that if the price needs to go up, then raise the price and be done with it.

    Otherwise I end up having to back to the store more times during the year to purchase my products. Using more gasoline, more wear and tear on my car, more people at the check out lines, causing stores to have to hire more people for the same “consumption” of goods causing the prices to rise even more.

    Vicious circle … quit downsizing my food.

  21. DudeLebowski says:

    @Myron: Well, I guess the market research team took another look at the “stale and watery” tagline.

  22. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Now I got some big boys in my house and a plump wife. How am I supposed to feed my family with this and the 12oz sausage, t-bone steaks, and couple a’ dozen eggs? I just want to butter my 56 slices of delicious toast gawt-dammit.

  23. vastrightwing says:

    Obviously, they didn’t ask me to help them market their new product.

    “New 100 calorie size!”

  24. WhiteTrashLegend says:

    Does anybody know if there’s a website dedicated to manufacturers changing product sizes? I’d love to find a central place to see who’s sticking it to us.

  25. phantomfly says:

    What’s going on is that Parkay is disgusting. Trans fat is not your friend! Eat butter or Earth Balance.

  26. Fuzz says:

    Well, it changed from:

    “53% vegetable oil spread” to
    “58% whipped vegatable oil spread”

    So it is different in some way. I wonder, was the package still full, or was there actually more space? I would imagine “whipping” it would fluff it up a bit.

  27. rdm24 says:

    OK, how much would you pay someone to whip your butter?

    It’s not dishonest–it’s selling a different product.

  28. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @Flossie:

    Parkay! …. Butter!

  29. etinterrapax says:

    Raising prices is honest. Doing this is dishonest, and it’s dishonest specifically because “most people won’t notice.” Didn’t their mothers ever teach them that it’s how you behave when no one’s looking that determines your character? Guess not.

    I’m relieved they haven’t tried to pull this with actual quartered butter, which is one of the few products that still comes a whole pound to a package. Somehow we’ve weathered the price fluctuations all these years. Some companies seem to be afraid we’ll all discorporate if they raise prices.

  30. XTC46 says:

    @david.c: It is not bait and switch. They aren’t advertising it as the old product and it is clearly stated what the weight is. If every advertiser announced every change they made people would get pissed off about all the ads.

    @SaveMeJeebus: lmfao…too funny.

  31. rouftop says:

    Not familiar with Parkay???
    [www.retrojunk.com]
    File under “World’s greatest advertising.”

  32. Red_Eye says:

    @whitetrashlegend: No but itshrank.com is available, go for it!

  33. savdavid says:

    Corporate America at work for you.

  34. balthisar says:

    I thought Meijer always posted unit pricing on their shelf tags anyway? Meaning, something that’s sold in ounces will have a shelf tag indicating the net, per ounce price.

  35. Flossie says:

    @radleyas: Thanks, I thought I was alone on that one!

  36. mk says:

    @balthisar: This is one of the nice things about shopping via Peapod. You can list by unit price in the results.

  37. galatae says:

    I’m willing to bet that Trans Fat is your culprit here. They need to reduce the amount of TF in margarine, however as it *is* trans fat, by definition, the only way to do that is to whip it up a bit and change the serving sizes.

  38. scarletvirtue says:

    @eelmonger: I learned quite a bit about cooking from AB – and I’d rather use butter than some soylent margarine crap!

    Anything that says “buttery taste” makes me want to run in the opposite direction.

    @vastrightwing: They’ll come around soon enough – I’d give it a couple of days. (I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the whole “100-Calorie” this, that and the other idea that some clever advertisers came up with…)

  39. infinitemojo says:

    Okay……..everyone….take a deep breath and follow me……

    FOOD COSTS are RISING (i.e. INFLATIONARY PRESSURES)
    3 reasons
    1) The population is growing (Please wear a condom)
    2) Oil is rising (transport costs rise if the price of gasoline rises…..gasp)
    3) Raw Material costs are rising (Ethanol from corn folks, Environmental factors, and Government subsidy intervention)

    And it isn’t dishonest to do a size-out(i.e. change the size without the “look” of the product). Hell, if you don’t read the label and then discover it later…whose fault is that?

    Most of these businesses aren’t trying to scam you and as a matter of fact… retailers set the prices. Now retailers tell manufacturers….” I need to hit this price point to stay competitive, make me one that I can retail for 2.99.”

    And gasp…..the manufacturers listen to their consumer (the retailer) and downsize to do it. They don’t want their prods taken out of the stores.

    This as always been the case…Coke used to be a nickel. Now its 1$ a can. These are just facts of a market driven economy. Everyone does it.

  40. DjSnipSnip says:

    vegetable oil????
    Presidente` butter is the best

  41. vermontdevil says:

    Parkay? ughh

    Go local – look for local butter made by local farmers. You’ll get top quality butter at a great price. For me in Vermont, no doubt it’s Cabot butter.

  42. Mr. Gunn says:

    I think they figure that if you’re dumb enough to eat pure trans-fat(aka margarine), you’re probably dumb enough to not notice the difference.

  43. obfusciatrist says:

    Parkay is now 0 grams trans fat (per serving). Obviously the “per serving” part is a serious caveat but it is no longer pure trans fat.

  44. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Well, magarine is the “cheap crap” and butter and Earth Balance are comparatively expensive. When you are trying to stretch a meager food budget, you don’t have the choice to buy the good stuff. You’re over a barrel. You have to accept the downsized packaging, the dishonest adulterations, the “we showed the food inspectors one thing and shipped something else” switcheroos, the no-name off-brands, and the cheapest possible raw materials.

    Why do I mention this? Because in other threads we’re so ready to just jump right on people who buy “cheap crap” for being ignorant and/or uncaring. Damn, we’re inconsistent.

  45. SOhp101 says:

    Why not use butter instead of margarine? With butter you’re paying for 85% oil and 15% milk solids but with margarine you’re paying for 50% oil and 50% water.

    I like real butter over butter flavor. There’s just something about cancer inducing substances that just turns me off (yes i know it was technically the butter flavoring in microwave popcorn, not margarine, but i’ll take my chances and stay away from all butter flavorings).

  46. SOhp101 says:

    @speedwell: Costco + Freezer = Profit!

    I personally think Earth Balance is a load of bull, and while butter is more expensive, it goes a lot further because of much higher fat/solids content.

    If you must shop at the traditional supermarket, store brands are almost always the way to go, especially with dairy products. In the world of unprocessed food, there are no such things as ‘name brands,’ only degrees of quality and cost, neither of which correlate with the name (or price) of a product.

  47. Freedomboy says:

    All part of the race to bottom, the most under reported domestic issue since Reagan. Check cashing stores, .99 cent stores, cheap [as in junk not actual costs] toys, cheap clothes, outsourcing, dropping home ownership % or it’s evil twin the sub prime mess with it’s attendant bail out, soon you’ll see, plasma selling outfits, lack of medical insurance. We are past becoming a third world dump. We have hungry people and no hope of a change. Maybe a global collapse is needed to re-sort the issues. Back from Europe this past spring – they are so far ahead of us it is silly. No mess, good products, recycling ,trains everywhere, windmills ,solar panels on little sheds in Italy on the farms, bio-crops for fuel everywhere, the view from the plane was a wash of rapeseed acres. We suck.

  48. kc-guy says:

    My only complaint about packaging deception revolves around two brands of the same product using different units of measure ie weight vs volume….grr.

  49. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Freedomboy: A lot of it at least here in L.A. is people from 2nd and 3rd world nations come here and basically treat it as home. I gave up on the number of times I have helped my mom paint her walls, that were covered by tags. I get mad every time I see people drop trash and just basically run everything into the ground. It’s depressing. The other side of the coin is rich assholes who drive Escalades and Navi’s at 90 miles an hour on freeways.

  50. shanaynay says:

    @Phantomfly: Word. Earth Balance is delish.

  51. shanaynay says:

    @Sohp101: Earth Balance is “a load of bull?” Do you know what it is, and have you tried it? It’s primarily, if not completely, “good fat” (unsaturated), as opposed to butter’s load of saturated fat and cholesterol.

  52. bbbici says:

    It’s like this idiotic double-churned ice cream, which is basically fluffed with air for the same price.

  53. Jean Naimard says:

    Margaret Thatcher’s first ever job was in a research laboratory of a ice-cream manufacturer.

    Her work? Find out ways of putting more air into the ice-cream.

    Now that explains everything else…

  54. This kind of stuff drives me nuts! I wonder how many products are downsized and we don’t notice the difference?

    Hellmans reduced the size of their mayo from 32 oz jars to 30 oz jars and kept the price the same.

    They’re very sneaky about it.

  55. swalve says:

    @DallasDMD: Does the packaging state the correct weight/volume? Then it’s not deception and trickery. Get some perspective, man.

    I’d like everyone to note that margarine is deodorized, hydrogenated vegetable oil. That’s when they do it in the factory. When it happens at home, it’s called rancid. All they’re doing now is fully hydrogenating it so that it’s not a trans fat. It’s still crap.

    Did you know that it used to be a law in Wisconsin (and was it Illinois too?) that margarine couldn’t be sold with the yellow food coloring in it? It came in it’s original waxy white color. It would come with a little pil-pak thing that you’d pop and squish around to make the “oleo” yellow like butter.

    Have you also noticed that heart disease and margarine (and vegetable shortening) use correlate?

    Eat butter.

  56. swalve says:

    @Jean Naimard: Ice cream is supposed to have air in it. It’s called overrun. The FDA (or the USDA?) has rules for how much air can and can’t be in iced-cream.

  57. Red_Eye says:

    @infinitemojo: Maybe your right, it isnt dishonest. That said I think I will open a gas station and charge by the “Unit” initially my “Unit” will equal one US gallon and my price will be competitive.

    Then in a month or so when gas prices go through the roof, instead of increasing the price for my unit I will simply redeclare in 12 point type on my pumps that a “Unit” is only equal to 0.5Gal US.

  58. Elvisisdead says:

    “Ugh. Margarine. Gross. I don’t even know what it is. Is it even a food?” – paraphrase from Anthony Bourdain.

  59. UnicornMaster says:

    Margin is gross, unless it’s SmartBalance. Otherwise I say go for salted butter.

  60. mrearly2 says:

    As a hydrogenated oil product, margarine is quite poisonous, so, more air and less product is better for you!