Three-Pound Tubs Of Country Crock: Now 3 Oz Lighter!

Country Crock’s three-pound vats of fat are now three ounces lighter, but you can’t tell by looking at the packaging. The crock-purveyor Unilever claims that the adjustment was made not to ensure optimal profitability, but to “ensure optimal consumer satisfaction.”

Unilever sent Mouseprint several excuses for slashing the container contents:

In order to maintain price, we have reduced the size of the container for several reasons:
  • Increased costs of raw materials, including ingredients and packaging materials
  • Transition to Trans Fat Free products
  • Tamper resistant containers

[In a separate letter, the company added:] A redesign of the product line was undertaken which involved packaging changes that had an impact on the net fill weight of the products. Prior to implementation, the changes were thoroughly tested with consumers to ensure optimal consumer satisfaction.

Unilever reduced the contents of the container, not the “size of the container,” which is very different.

If you catch companies reducing product and maintaining prices to compensate for the rising price of, well, everything, take a picture and send it to our tipline.

Country Crock 3-lb Margarine Tubs Stick It to Shoppers [Mouseprint]

Comments

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  1. bellopheus says:

    Have consumers ever been satisfied with getting less for their money?

  2. msamjr says:

    Obviously, food companies are now taking a page from the modeling industry, where less is more!

  3. cmcd14 says:

    Easiest way to make some extra money. Keep the same packaging, skim a little off the top.

  4. ironchef says:

    Their next excuse…”now with fewer calories!”

  5. lore says:

    Frankly, I’m not sure what the big deal is about this. It’s not as if they kept the same packaging AND labeled it as 3 lbs instead of the correct weight (2 lb and 13 oz). Now THAT would be a story.

  6. ptkdude says:

    I’m actually happy they did this. When it was 3 lbs, I was unable to lift the tub and put it in the fridge. Now that it’s lighter, I can use it!

  7. WraithSama says:

    @ironchef:
    That’s a good one. Of course, companies that try to reduce the apparent caloric content of the product will often decrease suggested serving size and increase number of service to artificially reduce the numbers on the nutrition label.

    Like the small snack-size bag of chips that magically contain 8 servings. Buy hey, look, only 50 calories per serving!

  8. Parting says:

    @ptkdude: The difference is equivalent to a weight of a pencil-case…

    So I suppose it’s a joke.

  9. humphrmi says:

    @lore: Or, alternately, if they reduced the content weight and kept the price the same, or higher. But we don’t see in the article whether that’s the case. The article does say (sneakily, in itself) “This is how some sneaky manufacturers opt to pass on a hidden price increase by just shrinking the product a little, and keeping the price same.” They don’t say that this is the case with Country Crock.

    Maybe, for all we know, the price went down commensurate with the reduced content.

  10. BugMeNot2 says:

    Sucks, but what do you expect companies to do? Put “now less for the same price as before!!!!” on the packaging?

  11. APFPilot says:

    It’s liken when Whole Foods took over our local Wild Oats, in addition to the changing of vendors (resulting in crappy beef and bison). They posted signs on the doors saying: in order to better serve our valued customers we will now be closing at 9PM (instead of 10). How stupid do these companies think consumers really are?

  12. humphrmi says:

    @humphrmi: Whoops, I guess in their response, Unilever actually admits that they reduced the content without lowering the price. “In order to maintain price, we have reduced the size of the container for several reasons…”

    Eh, whatever. News flash: Food company refuses to buck trends, raises prices, film at 11…

  13. mad_oak says:

    It looks like a nice way to increase profits by 6.25%

  14. thirdbase says:

    Crock is the right name for the product. Crock o crap would be more accurate.

  15. mad_oak says:

    I once came across a clearance on soap. The old soap bars weighed, I dunno.. 3.5 ounces, the new soap bars weighed 3 ounces. HERE’S THE KICKER. Not only did the reduce the size of the soap, they changed the shape. Anybody know how blood cells are shaped, that concave middle that provides more surface area for the cell to exchange oxygen? The damn soap was shaped almost the same way, like a rounded dumbel, which would would just provide more surface area for the soap to dissolve quicker.

  16. ChuckECheese says:

    Country Crock: Now with 6 fewer slices of greasy toast in every tub!

  17. humphrmi says:

    @mad_oak: I was about to say something snarky about “sure, companies are just rolling in profits right now” but in fact, Unilever is hugely profitable. So they have no excuse.

    [finance.google.com]

  18. TheDude06 says:

    What really scares me is what their testing procedures are! Its almost shocking to hear them say so blazen “yeah we totally made sure nobody could tell”

  19. Okay, as much as I love this site, I’m getting a little sick of this outcry for every act of product shrinkage*. We’ve previously established the need for it as cost to manufacturers have gone up and they need to either a]charge more for the previous amount of product or b]shrink the package to keep the price the same. Option b is the one which is somewhat easier on the consumer. Yes, they’re being secretive about it, but what do you expect? A national ad campaign touting this fact in big, bold, brightly-colored letters? Possibly with a B-list-celebrity-voiced cartoon mascot [actually that’d be kinda entertaining but I’m get off the point]? To summarize: cost of business is rising, cost to us is minimized except when buying large quantities, and it’s not a dark secret or unethical or anything.

    *Although shrinkage could be expected in this as the product is shelved in the refridgerated dairy section, where it is cold. I was trying to be serious above but didn’t want to interrupt for this stupid joke. Joke over.

  20. DeltaPurser says:

    What’s the big deal? Prices of groceries goes up all the time…

  21. astruc says:

    Breyer’s Ice Cream did the same thing– shrank the half-gallon size, price remained the same.

    Darren– I would rather pay more than have to go to the market that much more often as we run out of the smaller size. It also feels deceptive.

  22. delphi_ote says:

    Hey, Country Crock. I hope that small margin of profit was worth losing my business over. Because you just did.

  23. katra says:

    Oh yes, those evil companies, shrinking package sizes to increase their profits! It’s not like the cost of everything, including their raw materials, is soaring upwards or anything. They’re just greedy.

  24. LINIS says:

    Who cares, we all know that the price of food is rising. I suppose everyone thinks consumers should forever be immune to rising commodity prices and that companies should never change prices.

  25. lore says:

    @Bay State Darren: Thank you. Well put.

    One thing, though – the term product shrinkage actually means product theft in the retail sector… but other than that, I completely agree with you.

  26. Juggernaut says:

    **News Alert**
    Avoid the high price of gas by retrofitting your car with a smaller gas tank!
    **Thank You**

  27. theutopian says:

    Mmmm…. country crock. Yum!

  28. elislider says:

    wait doesnt unilever make soap? and they make “butter” too? uh… guess theres a reason i dont eat that stuff

  29. georgi55 says:

    Don’t forget they are being anti-green too, by using same amount of plastic to hold less material inside.

  30. hatrack says:

    Wow, only one person in this thread threatened to boycott Country Crock. And only one called it “crap”. That’s pretty impressive.

  31. SacraBos says:

    @APFPilot: There was a bank here that did that once. I asked the guy how reducing the hours serves me better. Didn’t have an answer…

  32. jonathan. says:

    @BugMeNot2: we expect them to not alter it unfairly at all. Or if they lower the amount provided, have the packaging reflect that with, you know, appropriately smaller packaging.

    This is a trick.

  33. joemono says:

    Country Crock’s three-pound vats of fat are now three ounces lighter, but you can’t tell by looking at the packaging.

    Sure you can. You look where it says “Net Wt.” Kinda like in those photos you posted.

  34. KogeLiz says:

    okay. whatever.
    this would not stop be from buying it if this what i choose to use.

  35. @lore: Sorry, I’m a layman trying to sound smart. Something getting smaller led me to think of the word shrinkage, which I should no longer be smirking at like I’m twelve.

    @astruc: I guess that’s a matter of perspective. I can make 3 lbs and ~3lbs of butter last about the same length [i.e. trips to the grocery store] and not notice the difference. I suppose if I was feeding a family or something it would make a difference.

  36. BTW, this thread title is innacurate. while the product may = (3lbs.-3 oz.), it should not be described as a three pound tub of Country Crock, because it isn’t and nobody is actually claiming that it is.

  37. elijah_dukes_mayonnaise says:

    Time for wage and price controls….

  38. bigmac12 says:

    They are really doing you a favor by giving you less unhealthy “glop” to eat per tub and more exercise going to the store, more often, for more!

  39. Snarkysnake says:

    Another case of a big corporate lie.

    I just finished eating a new 45 ounce tub and I am not satisfied.

    Bsatards.

  40. Lambasted says:

    I am glad for this posting because it reminds me to not only look at prices for comparison but the quantity too.

    Prices are outrageously high nowadays so you better believe I will go for a product that has 3 more ounces than its competitor.

    Companies can play this product shrinkage game if they want to but I spend my money on items where the return is the greatest.

  41. parse says:

    The crock-purveyor Unilever claims that the adjustment was made not to ensure optimal profitability, but to “ensure optimal consumer satisfaction.”

    I think the Consumerist is the one making false claims. You’ve taken Unilever’s comments out of context. They said clearly that the amount of product was reduced “in order to maintain price” despite an increase in the cost of raw materials. Having made the decision to make that change, they tested in order to make sure the change was made in a manner that would “ensure optimal consumer satifaction.” The “consumer satisfaction” refers to the way the adjustment was implemented, not the reason for making it.

  42. TheRealAbsurdist says:

    @Snarkysnake: I am sitting in an airport bar at this moment, passing beer through my nose, as a result of your comment.

    You’ll pay for this. ;)

  43. richcreamerybutter says:

    this is not food

  44. mmbb says:

    @SacraBos:
    Wow, you’re lucky that your bank only changed its hours. My bank reduced its value of a dollar by 4¢, so when I went in to withdraw $40, they gave me $38.40. Sneaky secretive bastards!!

  45. ugh, who buys that shit? 3lbs? dios mio, who the hell is shoveling that much altered fat into their glistening oily maws that they need to buy it in 2lb 13oz sizes anyway?

    it takes me six months to go through a pound of butter (it freezes just fine).

  46. ivanthemute says:

    So how many of you whiny bitches stopped eating Kelloggs, Post, and General Mills cereals? Every major cereal maker reduced the contents of their packaging by 10%, kept the prices the same. It’s a sign of the times, get used to it (or plant a fucking garden.)

  47. Uriel says:

    people actually spread that on stuff? Gross.

  48. TechnoDestructo says:

    Is it aerated or something?

    Because that could be a legitimate change, one that could make it spread better.

    @geeniusatwrok:

    Do you live alone?

    If so, stop assuming everyone does.

  49. Hint: Butter doesn’t contain vegetable oil.You shouldn’t buy that shit in the first place.

  50. ChuckECheese says:

    When I was growing up, our dog loved Country Crock. We kept it on the counter for even easier spreading. But if we didn’t push the tub all the way to the back, the sheepdog would pull that container down, remove the lid, and eat the whole thing. Then he’d barf it back up in foamy yellow clots all over the house. But he always came back for more.

    @TechnoDestructo: Yes, CC is whipped (be sure to aspirate the ‘h;’ it shouldn’t be silent). They prolly managed to add some more gums and a bit more air. The way to know if they did this would be to read the before time CC tub and compare it to the now tub–the now tub would have 6% or so fewer calories per serving (assuming they didn’t change the serving size).

  51. aristan says:

    Notice that the 3 pound container has a yellow stripe on it proclaiming “Thousands of prizes”.

    Little did you know, but most of those prizes were 3oz of fake butter.

  52. Veeber says:

    @mad_oak: Eh given that inflation rate is at 4% at the moment, this isn’t that bad. They could just increase the price a little at a time too. Would be the same effect.

  53. I just can’t believe it’s not butter

  54. beerman685 says:

    I know that smirnoff ice drinks are now 10oz not 12oz.. Look at the store next time.

  55. BugMeNot2 says:

    @jonathan: They DID alter the packaging. It doesn’t say 3LB anymore. You really expect Country Crock to make a big show out of you getting less for the same $$? You can stop dreaming.

  56. aristan says:

    For those who don’t seem to get it… Unilever doesn’t make a 3lb container of margarine or a 4oz bar of soap. They make a container of margarine that retails at $4 and a bar of soap that retails around $2.

    It’s the same way that Apple always charges $1199 for a certain level of computer, but what is available at that level will change.

    It’s the magical price point. They know consumers are willing to pay $4 for the ‘big’ tub of butter. So, they make a big tub of butter that will retail at that magical price point.

    Their cost went up…

    - They’ve had to start sealing the container, Country Crock used to have no type of seal at all, now it has a inner plastic wrap that has to be peeled off.

    - They’ve had to reformulate to get rid of trans-fats, which has development costs and possibly more expensive ingredients.

    - That plastic container is made from petroleum products. The new seal is plastic too. The gas tank isn’t the only place where rising oil costs are hitting us.

    Their solution was to sell you what they could at the magical price point that they have determined most people want to pay. Thanks to rising costs, what they can offer at that price has shrank.

  57. mmbb says:

    It seems that many, many Consumerist readers still have no idea of what “per-unit pricing” means, or how to apply it to their purchasing decisions.

    I can only conclude that they’re about 3 ounces short in the reasoning compartment…

  58. blowjustinup says:

    @artisan

    Good job explaining that.

    If it’s costing a company more to make something, yes, they’re going to charge more for less.

    Now some of you may say “Well they could have made the container smaller as well”

    Yeah, they could have.. But they probably already have a huge stock pile of those containers.. So why not just put less in them, rather than having them melted down to make newer, smaller ones, which would cost them even more, and then not only would you be getting less, but I bet it would cost more too.

  59. kurohio says:

    “Transition to Trans Fat Free products”

    Isn’t that stuff still full of trans fat since its still made out of vegetable oil?

  60. blowjustinup says:

    Oh, and one other thing. The response from them seems to imply they are using different products. Those products may weigh less than the ones that were used previously. The size of the container has to be based on volume rather than weight.. Even though what you’re guaranteed is the weight. If the products they are using now weigh less at the same volume.. Then they obviously can’t reduce the size of the container.

    I’m not saying that this is what happened and you need to compare the volume and prove me wrong, but it is definitely a possibility.

  61. LordieLordie says:

    I don’t get it.. In metric the difference between the 2 packaging is 9 grams, and in ounces it is 3oz… what gives???

  62. femmesavante says:

    @LordieLordie:
    Volume is measured in ounces, weight is measured in grams. 3 ounces of whipped margarine doesn’t weight much.

  63. StarGeek says:

    1.36kg – 1.27kg is not 9 grams, but 90 grams. Remember Kilo is 1,000.

  64. ChuckECheese says:

    @LordieLordie: and @femmesavante: No, the difference between the 2 pkgs is .09 kg, which equals 90 g, not 9 g. and .09 kg in ounces is just over 3 oz. You could say the difference is 9 decagrams, but I hope you won’t.

    Here in ‘merica we measure weight and volume in ounces (1 oz = about 30 ml or 28 g). When we bake, we measure by volume. Only kitchen geeks use scales around here, and life is easier that way.

  65. Quaoar says:

    @APFPilot:

    Actually, Wild Oats was bankrupt when bought out by Whole Foods. Whole Foods, for whatever they are worth, saved your bacon (smoked, uncured, of course) if you shopped at Wild Oats.

    You comment should be “How stupid was Wild Oats to buy out Alfalfa’s, a company that could not even sweep their floors regularly?

    Better yet, “How stupid WAS I to shop at Wild Oats?”, knowing that even you, as a shopper, were not purchasing enough to keep Wild Oats in business?

    BTW 3oz on 3 lb is 3/3*16 = .0625 or a price inflation of 6.25%. The manufacturer counted on your inability to do simple mathematics to hide the fact that prices are increasing at about 6% or so. You will soon find out that a 6% per annum inflation rate is egregious enough that you should have thought about capturing that rate with your savings.

    Well, if ignorance is bliss, you must be one happy customer of ignorance.

  66. KogeLiz says:

    @anonymousryan:

    no one gives a shit.

  67. KogeLiz says:

    @blowjustinup: exactly

  68. BeastMasterJ says:

    I remember a few years back when everyone one worried about fountain drinks going from a 32 oz large to a 64 oz large, and restaraunts turning us into fatties with XXL portion sizes and huge deserts.

    So, as shifty as this seems, I guess it all balances out in an oddball way.

  69. jamiepee says:

    If you’re actually spreading this disgusting tub of partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil on your toast, kudos to Unilever for taking the initiative of skimming a bit off of the top of this bucket of skin.

  70. SybilDisobedience says:

    w@BeastMasterJ: It’s not the portion size getting smaller that I take issue with – it’s the sneaky shrinking of the portion size, while keeping the price the same. Keeping the package the same size, and the product the same price, while shrinking the portion you’re purchasing is just sleazy.

  71. BugMeNot2 says:

    I can’t believe people actually EAT this stuff. srsly.

  72. synergy says:

    @thirdbase: I can’t believe it took so long for someone to make a “crock of…” comment! :D

  73. P_Smith says:

    It’s time start paying by prorating. If they reduce the contents, you pay less money.

    Three pounds is 48 ounces, so 2#13 is 45 ounces, or 93.75 percent. If the store charges, let’s say, $4.00, then tell the store manager you’re paying $3.75. Tell him to call the company and stop ripping off customers.

  74. tailstoo says:

    Face it – prices will continue to rise, and there’s little we can really do about it. While I don’t like this move by CC, go find a register receipt from a year ago and look at the same products today.

  75. TangDrinker says:

    @tailstoo: It’s happening quicker than that – I just found a receipt from January of this year from Trader Joe’s – most products were up by 20 cents or so. Just in 4 months.

    I wish our municipality would let us have chickens in our back yard – I’d be tempted to keep a few just for the savings in eggs. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to replicate the creamy goodness of country crock in my back yard, though. I think it requires a chemistry degree.

  76. lastingsmilledge says:

    the fresh express brand ‘iceburg garden’ packaged salad has recently gone from 16oz to 12oz.

  77. The Bambino says:

    News Flash:
    Expect all dairy, corn and grain based products to RAISE IN PRICE over the next year. How could this shock anyone in the slightest?

  78. Raziya says:

    Size changes that are coming up in the next few weeks…

    Tropicana 96 oz juice shrinking to 89 oz.

    Colombo yogurt shrinking from 8oz to 6oz.

    Edy’s Ice Cream shrinking from 56oz to 48oz.

    :| We get memos in my store almost every week about this. It’s insane.

  79. dantsea says:

    I think it’s genius. They shrink the sizes, the average consumer squeaks “Golly, I sure am glad they give me less product instead of raising the price,” and everyone in the boardroom does a collective oh-my-god-they-really-are-that-stupid gasp before laughing their asses off and doing it again.

  80. ceriphim says:

    @P_Smith: Apparently I didn’t get the memo you did. You know, the one where it outlines mandated fixed prices on our groceries. Think for a second before you post. Everyone’s costs are going up, why would you (or Unilever) be exempt?

  81. Angryrider says:

    AARGH!!! THEY TOOK MY 90 Grams!!!

    That much can be used to butter another bagel!
    When will it end? When corporations actually use the metric system to screw us another one by rounding down from 2.34 to 2kg?

  82. wjmorris3 says:

    I must note that it’s not just the three pound container that has shrunk. On a whim, I looked at the one pound container of Country Crock when I was at the store and noticed that it was at 15 ounces.

    I still think that the ice cream companies, Breyers in particular, are more devious. When Edy’s and Turkey Hill reduced their ice cream containers from 56 fluid ounces to 48 fluid ounces, they shortened the containers (which the way my store stores its ice cream, makes it easy to spot the short ones if a “tall” flavor is right next to it). Breyers, on the other hand, kept their container the same height and same size on the top, but narrowed the bottom to make it 8 fluid ounces smaller. Not good.

    And to those who suggest prorating the prices, I had the ignominy of seeing someone try and fight that fight this morning, over the Breyers ice cream. It was $3.99 for the container, they insisted that they were entitled to pay $3.42 because of the shrunken package.

  83. danseuse322 says:

    @Raziya: Edys is Dryers in Texas and I saw this yesterday. The ice cream I wanted looked like a short fat kid next to a tall buff guy. They mixed the new and old cartons so the size was startling. Same ice cream. Same price. I didn’t buy it. Out of protest. I do not NEED ice cream that badly.

  84. orlo says:

    There are two types of shoppers: those who grab the product regardless of the price, and those buy in quantity when it is a low unit price relative to historic data. Reducing the product amount in the container will piss off the former when s/he has to start buying two containers, and it will piss off the latter the first time s/he is tricked into paying more.

    This kind of crap is annoying and unsustainable. Shedd could save the same amount by cutting their very lame commercials and their research budget for crock-o-potatoes.

    They also should stop labeling products NO TRANS FAT…………*per serving. It makes no sense to buy cheap low-quality products when they become expensive.

  85. snidelywhiplash says:

    @TangDrinker:
    Eggs, you say? Look around – local farmers here are selling farm-fresh eggs for $2/dozen. Quite competitive, and undoubtedly fresher.

  86. packetscan says:

    Come on.. It’s not like they didn’t change the markings to indicate the change in size.

    The government has put the american people into the shitter, slowly we are paying more for everything.

    So before you jump on unilever look at the conditions that caused this.

  87. etherealclarity says:

    @P_Smith: No no no, you’ve got it all wrong. Go to the FED and tell them to stop issuing more money so that the cost of inputs doesn’t keep going up. It’s inflation that’s ripping you off, not the store manager and not the company.

  88. hi says:

    @delphi_ote: didn’t you mean margerine of profit?

  89. bbagdan says:

    I would rather the price increased by 6% than they sneakily try to give you 6% less product. I think everyone generally accepts that food prices increase over time.

  90. ekasbury says:

    Now that’s a crock.

  91. Mr. Gunn says:

    They still make this crap? 39% vegetable oil, 100% trans-fat. Not suitable for human consumption.

  92. farker says:

    I would rather them just jack up the price to cover their costs so consumers at least are aware of what is going on.

  93. cyberspastic says:

    Kroger white bread now costs 50 cents more and it has gone from 24 ouces to 20 ounces…