Readers Write In With Examples Of More Shrinking Products

Brawny’s not the only product skimping on size to sneakily increase profits. Here are two more items readers have noticed recently.
 
Henry writes:

Our house uses Skippy Peanut Butter, but i just found out they changed their jars from 18 ounces to 16.2 ounces for the same price. I know 2 ounces is not a huge amount of peanut better, but still.

And Matt writes:

I have noticed this same thing with Quilted Northern. I don’t know what the price used to be but i noticed while shopping at sams club now you get less quilted northern than you used to.

If you know of another company that’s downsized a product without passing along the savings, let us know. Maybe we can put together a single reference post so shoppers will see which products are the worst offenders.

RELATED
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Comments

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  1. Well was that time I went swimming on an extremely cold day…

  2. Arokh says:

    The price of raw materials and gas is so crazy that it’s either this, raise prices outright, or go under. It’s not necessarily greed, inflation is really messing things up.

  3. ivanthemute says:

    C’mon Chris, how about any canned good? The de-facto standard for canned goods now is 15 to 15.5 ounces in the standard 16 ounce can, the remainder being packed with nitrogen or another inert gas. Ramen noodles in a 3.5oz brick, as opposed to the old 4oz brick. The 99 cent “BigBag” of Frito-Lay products being 2.5 to 4 ounces instead of the original 5 to 6 ounce packages.

  4. Aesteval says:

    Are you sure that it’s a means to increase profit as opposed to the
    entire inflation and a rapidly increasing cost issue? Decrease the size
    and increase the price a little bit as opposed to keep the same size
    and be forced to do a larger price increase?

  5. Breyers did it with the their yogurt. They used to be 8oz cups, now they’re all 6 oz cups.

  6. flameboy says:

    With the rising gas prices, I believe you will be seeing more of this behavior from companies in the food industry.

    It is much easier to lower the quantity than raise the price.

  7. SaraAB87 says:

    The marshmallow peeps that I cited in another thread, you only get 2 rows of 5 peeps now instead of the previous years 3 rows of 5, but they still charge the same price. This isn’t so bad though because peeps aren’t exactly an essential item.

    Also the shrinking size of fun-sized halloween candy bars..

  8. telegramsam says:

    canned tuna in water is a key offender. The cans haven’t changed size, but there is much less tuna and much more water in the cans than previously.

  9. MARTHA__JONES says:

    tampon companies have been notorious for this for well over a decade.

  10. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    I always read the sizes of products before I buy. Some brands of toilet paper have the same price across the board, but if you read the labels, they vary greatly in square footage. That’s what I really care about. More square footage of TP means fewer rolls per house.

  11. Maybe those “savings” are going to pay for the cost of production. With rising fuel costs shipping is eating into profits. How are you supposed to keep the customer happy? If you decrease the amount of the product to keep the price the same, people bitch. If you keep the amount of the product the same, but increase the price, people will bitch. But which group will hurt more? The handful that will notice the decrease in product? Or the group that will notice the price increase?

  12. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    I’ve seen this with some beer being 11.2 instead of 12oz bottles.

  13. Scatter says:

    I understand that companies need to offset their rising expenses. My problem is when they try to be sneaky about it and hide the fact that you’re getting less for your money and hope you never notice it. If companies just decided to be up front and say that they have to raise prices a little because of higher expenses I’m sure that while a lot of people wouldn’t be happy they’d at least understand. By being sneaky about it like they are I tend to distrust a company more.

  14. TurboWagon00 says:

    I once worked at the M&M/Mars facility (Hackettstown NJ) and in the lobby was an entire display of all their products over the years. You could literally follow an entire product line back 30-40 years and watch the packages get smaller and smaller as time progressed.

  15. snidelywhiplash says:

    Ice cream. Was 64 ounces (i.e. 1/2 gallon), now mostly 56 oz, except for some store brands. Same price, if not more, for a 12-1/2% reduction in product.

    They’ve done it with spaghetti sauce too. Seems most of the jars are 24-26 oz now.

    Yogurt. Lots of brands were 8 ounces, now 6.

  16. HalOfBorg says:

    Propane for gas grills. USED to be 20lb…..then 19…now 18…..

  17. danseuse322 says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: Another reason they do this type of thing is to market the lower calories… 100 calorie packs are an easy way to diet so some NON 100 calories foods reduced sizes to brag… and kept prices the same or even raised them for this “convenience.” GRRRR!!!

  18. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Henry wrote: “I know 2 ounces is not a huge amount of peanut better, but still.”

    I have a 6 year old who loves PB. It’s a big deal. Especially on grocery Friday. When he wants PB&J for school lunch. And the damned jar is empty. A jelly sandwich is NOT the same.

    Bastidges! I want names!!!!!

  19. henwy says:

    Ya, those heartless buisnesses. Damn profitmongers.

    [money.cnn.com]

  20. mmbb says:

    Read the label. Pay attention. Problem solved. Find something worthwhile to whine about.

  21. nybiker says:

    @telegramsam:

    Tuna fish cans used to be 6.25 (or something just over 6) ounces. Years ago they went to just 6.0 ounces. What did they get rid of? Not the water. Yeah, the tuna. Draining all the extra water is that much tougher when you have less tuna. I haven’t bought a can since then.

  22. Cadbury Creme Eggs, but only in the US. In the UK and Canada, they’ve stayed the same size.

  23. Ragman says:

    The spaghetti sauces used to be 32 oz. Twelve years ago, I saw them dropping to the 27.5 oz range. Even saw the mix of 28 and 27.5 oz cans/jars of the same item. At the same price. It has nothing to do with fuel, it’s about increasing profit without raising the price.

  24. nodoubtavril says:

    Oh, I’m the Henry who wrote the Skippy Tip in earlier today, i had no idea it would go up!

  25. nybiker says:

    I am so glad that this is being brought to everyone’s attention. I just thought it was me complaining to my friends and family (and they’re sick and tired of hearing me). I have here the wrapper to a Scott 1000 sheet roll of TP. Have you noticed that their commmercial about lasting longer hasn’t appeared in quite a while? Want to know why? Because while there are still 1,000 sheets, there’s no standard as to what a sheet has to measure. So we have to read the labeling (as always) and we see that their sheet is now 4.5″ x 3.7″. The sheet used to be a 4.5-inch square. So, 1,000 sheets at .8″ = 800 inches less, which is 66.67 feet less. I don’t know the price of the pack I bought at BJ’s, but my guess is that the price went up even as the quantity went down.

    As for yogurt, the Colombo brand (it’s here in NYC, I don’t know if it’s nation-wide) is still 8 ounces. They even made a point of reminding us of that fact during a commercial.

    Breyers shrunk their ice-cream half-gallon a couple of years ago to the 56 ounce size. So I buy pints of Haagen-Daz instead.

    Soup cans went from 19 ounces to 18 ounces, except for some varieties.

    I guess for the companies that do this, they think we don’t realize it and therefore they are able to pass their “price increase” to us. I want my 7 ounce bag of chips, so just raise the bloody price. The movie’s title credits are just about done and so is my 4.25 ounce bag of chips. I guess I’ll just have to buy the family size bag. Even though I am a family of one.

  26. Dewgrl says:

    Yankee Candle and their Reed Diffuser. When I replaced my old one, I noticed they added some cheap looking stones at the bottom. What I did not notice until my boyfriend pointed it out is that they reduced the fluid ounce. Same price, but now I have some useless stones instead of yummy fragrance.

  27. strangeffect says:

    @Me: Yeah, I’d say a 10% drop is quite significant.

  28. Buran says:

    @Aesteval: It’s still pretty dishonest to not tell your customers.

  29. puka_pai says:

    Diapers (both baby and adult) and feminine pads (Kotex, fellas) have been reducing in size steadily. Over the past three years, there has been at least 3 downsizings that I’ve noticed. It’s my job to notice these things. Most recently, some sizes of Depends went from 16 to 14 pads, or 28 to 22 — huge difference!

  30. lockdog says:

    Girl scout cookies. Those wrappers of thin mints are a good two inches shorter than they were when my sisters where hocking the stuff. Also, when cooking, those shrinking packages of canned goods (oh and let us not forget Jimmy Dean Sausage!) can pose a problem when trying to make some of those old family recipes that merely say things like, two cans of tomato paste. Its hard to decide just how much tomato paste that was when Grandma wrote the recipe down in in 1962.

  31. marsneedsrabbits says:

    The solution to all this is a price book: [www.familycorner.com]

    It costs whatever a cheap notebook costs you, and saves a surprising amount of money and starts saving you money immediately.

  32. redragon104 says:

    The new Poland spring bottles are 3L, sold at the same price as the 1 gallon(3.79 L) bottles.

  33. 0x12is18 says:

    @Buran: Seriously? You want hundreds of companies to spend more money telling consumers that, yes, we reduced the quantity so you wouldn’t gripe about price increases? Then this money spent on informing consumers would cause even larger decreases in size.

    As a few people have tried to note (to no avail apparently) is that inflation continues. The cost of doing business increases. This gives a company 3 choices:

    1) Increase prices
    2) Decrease quantity
    3) Reduce work force
    4) Quit doing business

    Having worked for a Fortune 500 company and now a small business, I can tell you that nobody wants #3, though it is the easiest way to reduce the cost of doing business. Number 4 is rather counter-productive. That leaves either #1 or #2. People aren’t as likely to notice and complain about smaller portion sizes. They will always complain about prices increases being passed on to them.

  34. LUV2CattleCall says:

    [quoe]tampon companies have been notorious for this for well over a decade.
    [/quote] @MARTHA__JONES:

    Seems like a smart idea to piss off women at that time.

  35. SloppyChris says:

    A more reasonable direction for your anger isn’t business, it’s fiscal policy makers who are responsible for devaluing your hard earned money.

  36. yelohbird says:

    I remember opening up a can of pringles a couple of years ago and realizing that the chips shrank…the cans were the same size, but instead of the chips taking up almost the whole diameter of the can, they seemed too small for the can. I forgot to check the weight though, to see if I ended up getting less chip for the same price.

  37. Raziya says:

    Colombo Yogurt is shrinking from 8oz —> 6oz soon, just like the rest of the yogurt. The store I work in got a notice about it a few weeks ago, so be prepared.

  38. Kounji says:

    I think most companies will typically want to stay at the same price point they’ve always been at, so typically skimping is the only option in order to stay there. Its a sad fact of life. The wisdom is the consumer is typically more made when the 20 oz soda is 1.29 rather than being 16 oz and 99 cents.

  39. NumberFourtyThree says:

    I noticed a box of candy (Zours, to be precise), started making 6 ounce boxes instead of 8 ounce, but they tried to disguise the change by having the new box talk about them adding 2 new flavors, so people would notice that instead of the change in size if they saw the new boxes and the old boxes on the same shelf right after the change.

  40. mamacat49 says:

    I am addicted to Trident bubblegum. The big long multipacks used to hold 8 individual packs of gum, now they only have 6. And they raised the price from around $1.69 to $2.25–for less gum. Guess I’ll start weaning myself off of the stuff.

  41. Salveway says:

    I work the frozen food department for Safeway and have seen product shrinkage on a few product lines.

    **Breyers Ice cream is moving to a 1.5 liter container, down from 1.75. Used to be 1/2 gallon years ago.

    **Banquet food bags of frozen chicken tenders are now 26oz bags. Old pack size was 32oz.

    **Safeway brand novelties have almost all gone through some kind of product shrink over the last 6 months.

    The same story in the TV dinner sections. 1oz or 2oz size reductions of some product lines. For example, the South Beach line was discontinued and replaced with packages of smaller sizes.

  42. MsClear says:

    I don’t really see any solution to this issue. What can the consumer do, other than be aware of these issues? I don’t buy large amounts of convenience foods and I generally stick to generics. However, I expect we’ll all be seeing this trend.

    I’ve got some gold jewelry to sell and I can cut all unnecessary expenses, and do some container gardening, but we are over a barrel here (an oil barrel) and it’s likely to stay that way.

  43. lemur says:

    People keep saying that companies do that so that the customer won’t see a price increase and thus won’t complain. Sounds good in theory but I think most customers are not that attentive to price increases of grocery items. (At this point, I’m sure 90% of the commenters reading this will think “but I pay attention”. To which my reply is that people who take time to read and write comments on Consumerist are not a representative sample of the general population.) I would also say that people who are attentive to prices are not easily fooled: they know that what matters is the price per unit (weight, volume, etc.) rather than total price.

    But here’s the deal: the price per unit is going up whether you like it or not. Whether they raise the per-unit prices or reduce package size, the result is you pay more. And no, I don’t think that companies should start sending out memos announcing what they are doing. Keep your eyes open and be savvy.

  44. Snarkysnake says:

    @SloppyChris:

    Amen,bro…

    What you folks are seeing is not necessarily greed by these companies. It’s the symptoms of rising inflation.In this cut throat marketplace that we call America,they know that unilateral price increases are death…This is much more subtle and easily digested.The companies that are doing this are getting whacked by fuel,energy and other rising costs and something has to give… That said, Fuck you,Breyers. You have taken this to an extreme with your package cutting…

  45. EBounding says:

    As far as fast food goes, Wendy’s has significantly reduced the sizes of their Jr. Cheeseburgers. They originally tried raising the price from 99 cents to $1.25. That didn’t fly, so they just reduced the size of the burgers by a third.

  46. razremytuxbuddy says:

    A former 25lb bag of Kibbles and Bits is down to 17.6 pounds, and yesterday I saw a 16lb bag. When quantities differ on groceries it makes it hard to comparison shop. Also, with the shrinking packages, I’m not seeing the price-per-unit info on the shelves as was once mandatory. When I do see that info, sometimes the “unit” is the whole package. Reducing the size of the package also disguises inflation, which I assume falsely skews the country’s inflation numbers downward.

  47. backbroken says:

    @MARTHA__JONES: I have a really really funny joke to make but I just can’t bring myself to use it. Too offensive even for the internet.

  48. WhirlyBird says:

    Parkay recently dropped their 16oz margarine to 13oz, but in the same size package. All the cool kids are doing it.

  49. Erwos says:

    Yeah, I noticed the “more water in tuna” thing, too – solid white albacore has gotten quite a lot less solid recently. My other dietary staple, Morningstar Farms “green boxes”, have also had some pretty substantial price increases.

    IMHO, part of the solution to rising food prices is to shop more efficiently. Safeway and Giant send us tons of “free shipping on online orders!” codes, so we just wind up buying online. This allows us to plan our purchases more efficiently, buy less junk items, and take more advantage of sales.

    You can also, you know, buy less expensive food and cook more. Realistically, most people can cut back in their food budgets by a surprising amount. You don’t need meat every night – and I say this as someone who loves good meat.

    I hate hidden price increases as much as anyone else, but like others have said, when the underlying ingredients have skyrocketing commodity prices, something has to give. I would have preferred more obvious price hikes, but I also understand that the US market is very price-sensitive – even more so these days. On the plus side, maybe we’ll see obesity fall…

  50. DTaylor404 says:

    I guess it’s old news that most “five-pound” bags of sugar seem to have become four-pound bags. Only Aldi seems to be holding the line at a true five-pound bag.

  51. Anonymous says:

    @Salveway: Tyson Frozen Chicken tenders are the same way; smaller bag. I agree that the consumer should be aware but it just seems a little deceptive to reduce the quantity, keep the price the same. They don’t have a problem telling us when something is bigger “NEW LARGER SIZE” “6OZ FREE”…too bad we don’t see ‘SAME PRICE, LESS PRODUCT!”

  52. MonkeyMonk says:

    I used to *love* Pepperidge Farm Sausalito cookies. I hadn’t had them in many years but I recently bought a pack last week and I was shocked to find just 8 little cookies in the bag. They were nowhere near as large as I remember them. The trays the cookies sit inside within the bad were like half full. Maybe I’m misremembering but it seems like there’s been some serious shrinkage going on here. The bag lists 7.2 oz. Anyone know if it used to be bigger?

    Sadly . . . I still loved the cookies but I doubt now I’ll ever buy them again. $3.19 for 8 cookies seems pretty steep to me.

  53. dirk1965 says:

    How about the products that are marked as having a certain amount of ounces, and if you measure it out, its substancially less. To me that is more deceptive.

  54. syndprod says:

    The yogurt downsizing to a measley 6oz. seems to be across all brands that were previously 8oz. I purchase the Giant store brand, and they shrunk from 8 to 6oz. earlier this year. Damn it, 6oz. of yogurt is not enough for lunch! That’s why I never used to buy Yoplait, which were always 6oz.

  55. forgottenpassword says:

    I have no problems with companies who reduce or change their products & charge the same prices, BUT I want them to bring attention to their change in an obvious way. No BS subterfuge of saying it’s “new & improved!!!!” just to cover up the fact that they are charging more for less product.

    IMO I think its deceptive advertising & should be punished. Trying to mislead or trick your customers is wrong & should be punished.

    ANY time a company changes its product size, but still charges the same price….they should be made to shamefully admit it on their packaging for at least 5 months.

  56. sicknick says:

    So, I used to be a Quilted Northern fanatic. I’d buy it on sale, stock up, if I somehow ran out I would do anything to get more, including paying non-sale paper goods prices. In short, I loved the stuff and nothing lese felt the same on my ass.

    Switch to a few months ago when I broke up with my girlfriend who owned the hosue we lived in. Moved in with a friend who always bought the Kirkland Premium Toilet Paper from CostCo.

    It’s actually better then the Quilted Northern. I’ve never found a generic, cheaper toilet paper I’d put near my ass. Drop the exspensive stuff, go buy Kirkland. Now, if you’re the type who likes the almost clothlike feel of Charmin, you’re not gonna like Kirkland. It’s very much more a softer, thin version of buttwiping. I got nothing for you if you like to wipe a maxipad across your bum :P

  57. BugMeNot2 says:

    Also a lot of pasta now comes in 13.25 oz instead of 16 oz packages.

  58. radio1 says:

    I used to work the New England’s largest supermarket chain in the quality control laboratory.

    Many people here are confusing inflationary drop downs with simple fill rate variables.

    In 1992, cat food cans were 6oz. In 1993, manufacturers downsized 5.5oz. This is how manufacturers not retailers keep their price down. Retailers have nothing to do with products sizes unless they working with their own private label products.

    You best bet is to:
    1) Pay attention to the metrics on the package.
    2) Unit price of product.
    3) Try using private products, they are somewhat more resistant to these issues. But look at their labels too.
    4) If you are measuring products and they seem shorted. make sure you have an accurate scale and graduated cylinders. All products have fill deviations that are considered acceptable. usually these lie around 5% to perhaps 10%. This for under and over-fill.
    5) If you are dealing with products, especially private label write the retailer/vendor. You will get a response. Consumer affairs or quality control departments do initiate investigations on products as they seem credible.

  59. RandomHookup says:

    Coming soon — size decreases labeled as “Earth-friendly packaging”.

  60. NotATool says:

    I have to jump on the Breyers bandwagon too. The package looks smaller and sure enough, it’s 1.75 quarts instead of 1/2 gallon. Same high price, though. I noticed the store brand ice cream is still 1/2 gallon and is still loads cheaper. Pissed me off when I first noticed this.

  61. TurboWagon00 says:

    @puka_pai: Whoa dude (dudette ?) a little Too Much Information ;)

  62. elijah_dukes_mayonnaise says:

    @sicknick: Do you have a blog? I’d like to read more of this analysis.

  63. failurate says:

    @Buran: The labels still have to indicate the size.

  64. RubiksPube says:

    Starbursts are smaller than they used to be.

  65. failurate says:

    @socalrob: Guinness… but I thought that was just their weird black bottle, or some strange metric issue.
    Actually, I think this is just the metric system being sneaked in on us. Everything is smaller in metric.

  66. lemur says:

    @radio1: “This is how manufacturers not retailers keep their price down.”

    I won’t claim that I’ve read all comments carefully but I don’t think that anyone here attributed the downsizing to retailers.

  67. failurate says:

    @edicius: I noticed that one a year or two ago. They are tiny now.

  68. pandroid says:

    Quilted Northern and Brawny are both Georgia Pacific products.

    I know someone who works for them, and I believe they might be having some issues because of inflation. I’ll still be buying their products – at least I know they’re made in the US.

  69. Dacker says:

    @Git Em SteveDave:
    Worse than that is Yoplait. Years ago they took the ubiquous 8oz. package and made it 6oz. They they introduced their “Whipped” product which puts just 4oz. in the 6oz. package. Consumers get 33% air for the same price! What a bargain!!!

  70. Dacker says:

    @lockdog:

    I noticed the packaging of Girl Scout Cookies as well, plus the price/package price is now very high.

    GS districts can set their price anywhere from $3.25 to $3.75/box, but in each of the three places I’ve lived in the last few years prices them at the top price.

    I only buy them out of guilt as I can get Thin Mints equivalents from Keebler for half the price of the GSs.

  71. Dacker says:

    @razremytuxbuddy:

    Yep, I grew-up with 50# bags of dry dog food. They dropped to 40#, then to 32#, 30, or even 28#.

  72. Dacker says:

    @RandomHookup:

    One great exception is that some laudry detergent companies are now moving to a “2X concentration”. It does not make sense to transport all that unnecessary water around the country.

    Surprise, surprise, I believe it was Walmart who is pushing this changeover. I just hope it is not being done such that a jug of 2X does less than @x the loads.

  73. BlazerUnit says:

    @RandomHookup: As Dacker mentioned, the laundry detergent makers (I’d add dish detergent too) and their new ‘concentrated’ versions.

    I honestly haven’t noticed much of a difference when it comes to my laundry, so perhaps it really is on the up and up. Dish detergent, though? It ‘might’ be concentrated, but I’m sure me and the other mindless consumers will still give the bottle the two-handed squeeze play.

  74. That 1-pound can of coffee is sooooooooo not a pound.

  75. rlee says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: Giant did that with their generic yoghurt, too. They dropped the price somewhat, but nowhere near the appropriate 25%. Hmmm. I wonder whether Giant’s is just relabeled Bryers’?

  76. Ragman says:

    The 2x laundry detergent comes with a smaller measuring cup, so hopefully when you fill it to the same height as with the regular strength, you only use half the amount. I don’t know, since I haven’t measured it out.

    They aren’t scrimping the sizes by half ounces due to fuel costs – they’ve been doing this since gas was $0.99/gallon. Their excuse when called on it ten years ago was that “It’s what the customer wanted”. Yeah, and whoever it was that first cut the number of tampons got themselves a new a$$ reamed by customers and quickly put the original number back in the box.

  77. adam33777 says:

    Ever notice a gallon of ice cream is not a gallon anymore?

    Wait till a gallon of gas is only .75 gallons.

  78. unoriginal says:

    @adam33777: The day that happens is when I call up my local weights and measures office and have them check the pumps.

  79. ZekeDMS says:

    @edicius: And damn does it make me mad! These things are getting smaller every year. Used to be you couldn’t fit the egg in your mouth, you had to nibble the end and break a piece off. Now the whole thing just pops right in. And this is referring to a time when I was full grown, not 3!

  80. spindle789 says:

    amazing that no one here remembers that Andy Rooney has been doing this story on 60 Minutes for years. He started with coffee and added other products in later years.

    [www.cbsnews.com]

    2 ounces of peanut butter is not a huge deal until you think about how many millions of containers sold, and how much that saves the manufacturer.

    none of this matters, however, if you buy using the UNIT PRICE.

  81. lincolnparadox says:

    Raising prices due to inflation is being honest about the economy with your consumers.

    Decreasing product volume, while trying to maintain the size/look of the package, is being dishonest with your customers. Regardless of the change in price.

  82. nygenxer says:

    Papermate pens.

    A pack of pens was 8, not 10.

    I didn’t notice it until I got home.