Lucerne Yogurt Fails To Escape The Clutches Of The Grocery Shrink Ray

Nothing is safe from the Grocery Shrink Ray: not babies; not household brands backed by expensive ad campaigns; and apparently, not even discount private labels.

Jim writes:

A visit to my local North Texas Tom Thumb store on Wednesday revealed the latest target of the Grocery Shrink Ray: Lucerne Yogurt. Thankfully the stockers were helpful enough to place the new 6oz size right next to the 8 ouncers, which I’m willing to bet are not long for the shelf. Note that the 8oz size is “REDUCED FOR QUICK SALE”. Lovely.

Quick, grocery products, cower behind the dressing or ice cream while there’s still time!

Comments

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  1. RandomMutterings says:

    Could this be a secret government-initiated plan to reduce our food intake, combat obesity, and lower health costs?

  2. Jon Parker says:

    I’m not saying this is the case, but they may have had no choice. House brands are nearly always done as OEMs. If their supplier changed the production line to accommodate the shrunken product, Publix may have been informed that they would have to start selling the smaller package.

  3. Mr_Human says:

    So we know that cost pressures are hitting everyone — consumers and manufacturers alike. Putting aside the packaging deceptions, I wish we could do a poll asking whether consumers prefer an item to be priced higher or shrunk. Personally, I think I might prefer a shrunk product than a higher price.

  4. timmus says:

    But I need Publix to explain how this smaller size is good for me.

  5. arkitect75 says:

    The best part is that in my local Publix both sizes still exist. Some flavors are only available in 8 oz, some in 6 oz, and then there are those flavors that you find BOTH 8 and 6 oz on the shelf. All of the pricing tags call out the same price that they’ve always been (from the 8 oz days). yet the tag has been updated to show the unit cost is based on 6 oz now.
    I still don’t understand the removal of the plastic lids though, although it does make the 6 oz ones easier to spot on the shelf.

  6. fredmertz says:

    Dannon actually did this years ago.

  7. MrFreshy says:

    @Mr_Human: I agree. I would rather have a smaller portion (which is probably better for me anyway) than to have to pay a higher price. I can only afford so much money at the store, if all the prices went up, I would have a much less diverse diet.

  8. hmk says:

    This exact thing happened at my Jewel-Osco in Chicago a couple of months ago. I switched to the 32oz package instead and leave it at work, instead of bringing a little one each day. Better deal that way.

  9. ajmccoll says:

    @Mr_Human: I’m sick of hearing this argument. It doesn’t matter whether they raise the price or shrink the product, you’re going to end up paying more for less either way.

  10. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @ajmccoll: Right, but shrinking the serving size is more politically correct. Next up, herding fat people into concentration camps. (I kid.)

  11. Stanwell says:

    @Mr_Human: My objection to the grocery shrink ray is not that the product is coming in smaller sizes, it’s that the smaller sizes retain the same sku as the larger size. When you by a six pack of half-size cans of Coke, you know you’re getting less because the cans are obviously smaller (and it has a different barcode, and is a different item from the regular size six pack.) When a company keeps similar packaging and slightly reduces the amount of product, or totally redesigns the packaging so the reduction in product won’t be as noticable, AND keeps the item number/sku the same, they are engaging in a shady and deceptive practice and hoping that the average consumer won’t notice. If they really meant it when they said the shrinking sizes were for the benefit of the customer and so on, they’d keep the old size and raise the price…and at the same time introduce a smaller size and let the consumer choose.

  12. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Smaller size or higher price…ultimately it doesn’t matter, but they should require the manufacturer or store to put big yellow “SMALLER SIZE” stickers on all the shrunken items. There…that way the playing field is level.

    You already know you’re paying more when the price is higher, but you don’t always know when they quietly shrink the container which is my objection to the grocery shrink-ray.

  13. kepler11 says:

    Consumerist, you already posted his story 2 weeks ago: see here.

  14. Saydur says:

    The price of gas goes up, and people try to cut back. When they can cut back on optional things like certain non-staple groceries, they’ll do so even more.

    On one hand, I want prices to go up instead so people realize the dollar is much weaker than it used to be. On the other hand, I’d really prefer groceries get hit by the shrink ray to reverse some of the enlarging rays they were subject to in the past. A soda was 16 ounces, then 20, then 1 liter (almost 34 ounces) was threatening to take over. Bags of chips are larger, “FAMILY SIZE” and “ECONOMY SIZE” started spreading.

    Sure, it’d be nice to let people know. Force that on the companies, and you’ll see the shrink ray hit harder, with nominal price reduction. “Smaller size, SMALLER PRICE!”

    Watch and see.

  15. HuntersCanvas says:

    @arkitect75:

    Both Dannon and Stonyfield Farm stopped using plastic lids a few years back – it’s better for the environment, and saves companies $$. Too bad you still can’t recycle the bottom part in NYC.

    Here’s a link:
    [www.boingboing.net]

  16. Mr_Human says:

    @ajmccoll: I’m not making an argument, actually. Prices go up, and that’s inevitable — welcome to the real world. And it’s a given that companies are handling this badly. I’m merely curious if people want to pay the same price for less, or pay more for the same amount.

  17. MissCellania says:

    This has been going on for decades, but now it’s happening to so many products so fast that it’s very obvious. My mother gave me the family recipe book she’s used since the 60s. Several recipes say to use “a package of….” which doesn’t quite work, since whatever it was came in 16 ounce packages back then and only ten ounce packages now.

  18. bcsus83 says:

    Wasn’t this article about Publix yogurt a couple hours ago? Or am I hallucinating?

  19. spanky says:

    Smaller packaging also increases waste; so the shrink ray not only sucks for the consumer, but for the environment as well.

  20. Mange says:

    I recall seeing this with my Yoplait Light yogurt, where the size went from 8oz to 6oz. What is very interesting to me, though, is that the nutritional info remained the same for both packages. Somehow, the 6oz portion had the same number of calories as the 8oz. It makes me wonder if the info is incorrect, or if they just added sugar or something rather than admit the calories went down due to less product. Twenty-five extra calories adds up, people!

  21. ChuckECheese says:

    @MissCellania and @Mr_Human: In the olden days, packages shrunk by a half-ounce or so at a time. It has taken decades for a pound of coffee to reach its current 11 oz size. It didn’t go from 1 lb to 12 oz overnight.

    As you pointed out Miss Cellania, now manufacturers are reducing sizes by large amounts all at once. 8 oz to 6 oz of yogurt is a 25% reduction in size (and a 33% increase in price). Such large increases could be called hyperinflationary.

    It is downright strange to hear people arguing “well, that’s what they have to do,” “this has always gone on” and especially “we’re all too fat anyway.” Nobody got obese eating lowfat yogurt, and I strongly suspect that these companies are not facing cost pressures that require them to increase retail prices by 25%-33% to make up for them. And no, we haven’t had grocery prices increase by 33% all at once before, at least not in the last couple generations.

    Neither do I want a 25% decrease in my calorie intake. Such arguments about its inevitability are specious, fatalistic learned helplessness. The companies will not be able to reduce package sizes any further, which begs the question what they will do if they decide they need to squeeze some more margin out of products down the road.

    The way the companies have done this is odd–sneaky, quiet. If their backs were really against the wall, I think they would have said so. Instead, there has been an industry-wide move to repackage products–in smaller sizes–while maintaining the same price. Inflationary pressures in the past have always led to small decrements in package sizes.

    There was an article in the paper last week regarding the G-8 summit meeting, where the British representative mentioned that England’s “food inflation” was largely a fabrication by food makers and sellers, leading to a tidy increase in profits for food manufacturers, distributors and grocers. Betcha there will be similar growth in profits in the U.S. too, all based on a lie that their costs have gone up so much they had to raise prices by twenty-five percent or more.

  22. Mr_Human says:

    @bcsus83: I noticed it, too. The Publix article disappeared for a while, and then came back as this, with the comments intact. I wish they’d note it when they do this kind of stuff.

  23. mmmsoap says:

    I’m very confused. Wasn’t this article about Publix just a few minutes ago?

  24. TechnoDestructo says:

    Kroger ditched the plastic lids, but kept them 8 ounces (thus far)

  25. ajmccoll says:

    @Mr_Human: The fact that somebody would even choose one over the other is completely redundant. It doesn’t matter if you pay $4.50 for an 8oz tub which then shrinks to 6oz, compared to if you pay $6.50 for an 8oz tub if they instead raise the price. You’re still essentially paying MORE for LESS either way so it doesn’t even really matter.

  26. arkitect75 says:

    @hunterscanvas: Oh, I know the reasoning behind it, and I’m glad, b/c it’s less post-consumer waste, since most ppl do throw it away. I try to recycle everything I can.

  27. arkitect75 says:

    @mmmsoap: It was about Publix when I posted this morning.. lol Maybe kepler11 got to Carey.

  28. rlee says:

    Well, that’s damned annoying. Giant switched from 8oz to 6oz several months ago, so I just switched to buying at Safeway. They carry Lucerne, and were still 8oz as of a couple days ago.

  29. bcsus83 says:

    @Mr_Human: Good to know I’m not losing it.

  30. jblack says:

    One thing that has always confused me about this shrinking ray mess is how unit pricing plays into things. Aren’t stores that provide unit prices required by weights and measures to provide accurate prices? If so, aren’t shoppers already protected from buying less than they thought?

  31. Mr_Human says:

    @ajmccoll: Yes, in strictly mathematical terms, yes, you are correct. We know we’re paying more for less. That’s not really what I was going for, though. My question was more about personal preference.

  32. sean77 says:

    @ajmccoll: it does matter when it comes to products that come as “single serving”.

    It’s not like you have a weird biological 8oz requirement that must be met. Cutting back on the amount you eat is something someone might deem prudent in the current economy.

  33. My only wish is the Grocery Shrink Ray hits the amount of blades in a disposable razor.

  34. sirellyn says:

    Prices aren’t simply supposed to keep going up. You are supposed to have areas of DEFLATION too in a normal economy. Our economy isn’t normal. It’s totally NOT normal for prices to simply keep going up!

    And for a country that ISN’T(???) in a recession the grocery shrink ray is hitting a lot of stuff! Weren’t 2 more major banks about to default this week? Letsee, when is the last time 3 MAJOR banks defaulted in one year?

    I don’t even think that’s ever happened in the 1980’s, when we did apparently have a recession.

    When someone shrinks my breakfast, I get very angry…

  35. larkknot says:

    While those of us that actively read the Consumerist have the shopping savvy to look down and read the per unit pricing, I know the average consumer doesn’t. It took me months to get my boyfriend into the habit of checking and comparing that number instead of the total cost – he still forgets sometimes.

  36. brookeln says:

    Went shopping at my Safeway tonight and noticed this too (they carry Lucerne – I didn’t realize any other supermarkets also carried Lucerne).

    The Lucerne yogurt was the last and only yogurt still available in 8 oz. sizes, and was still cheaper than the name brands. It’s really tasty too.

    Now all the newly stocked Lucerne yogurts are 6 oz., but the same exact price as the old 8 oz. What a scam.

    Also, it seems they’re trying to draw your attention away from this reduction in size by proclaiming “New Smooth & Creamy Recipe” on the package. Thing is, it’s exactly the same as before – there’s not any “new recipe.” It’s just a gimmick to draw your attention away from the smaller size.

    This makes me really sad. I will dearly miss my 8 oz yogurts ;(