Nabisco Zaps Triscuits With Grocery Shrink Ray

It’s time to play Spot the Difference! Between the older Triscuit box on the left and the one on the right, Nabisco made at least four changes. It doesn’t really matter if you can find them all, since only one change matters.

Eagle-eyed Consumerist reader Colin was comparing these two Triscuit boxes when he noticed that the newer one had been ZZZZZZZZZZZZZAPPPPPED! by the Grocery Shrink Ray, to the tune of half an ounce (or 14g, if that’s more your thing).

Since the entire box was originally only 9.5 ounces, that means Colin and other Triscuit fans are now noshing on 5.3% fewer crackers, all while paying the same price.

TRiscuitCU.png

PREVIOUSLY ON GROCERY SHRINK RAY THEATER:
Huggies Trumpets New Lower Price, Doesn’t Brag About Box Having Less Diapers
The United Arab Emirates Will Not Stand For The Grocery Shrink Ray
Large Bottles Of Aussie Shampoo Now Somewhat Less Large

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    Hunt’s canned spaghetti sauce did it too – was 26.5 ounces, now 24.

    Really fucks up my cooking.

  2. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    This happens all the time. I bought raisins to make raisin filled cookies, and discovered that the one pound box, that the recipe calls for, has gone down to 14 ounces.

    I’m still pissed that most ice cream has gone from 64 fluid oz to 48 fluid oz, and it still costs the same or more as before! A full 25% reduction in volume should result in at least a small price decrease, not prices remaining the same or going up.

    • More_Cowbell says:

      I have to admit, I’m curious what you are making that calls for an entire lb. of raisins…

  3. Straspey says:

    Please answer me this –

    If you are a long-time and loyal consumer of a particular product and brand – as in this case of the Triscuit cracker by Nabisco — and, if it’s one of your favorite foods – you know, something you always have in your house and and make sure to buy a new pack (bottle, box, etc.) before the current one runs out…

    If you really love a product that much, then…

    Wouldn’t you be perfectly willing to pay a little bit more for the same amount, as opposed to the same price for a bit less ??

    I don’t really like Tirscuit crackers, but there are other items I don’t like to be without, and am used to buying a certain amount. So – for instance, I’d rather pay 50 cents more for a full 16 oz pint of my favorite brand of ice cream, than the same price for a 14 oz container.

    Do others feel this way too — or am I somehow misguided in my rationale about this ?

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Working in market research, I have seen how “Brand Loyals” react to price changes and it is significant. There are several types of ways that we look at pricing sensitivity and they all show similar results.

      What is simply comes down to is that people who are “Brand Loyal” tend to be more aware of pricing changes than they are for the quantity of product in a package. Note this does not work for known and standard packaging like sodas.

      • MutantMonkey says:

        I should note that most consumers tend to be more aware of pricing than quantity. This is not only a “Brand Loyal” response. The point of bringing them up is they react more negatively towards price changes than non-users or infrequent users. They may still buy the product, but they are more vocal about the displeasure.

        • Straspey says:

          Thanks for your insightful reply.

          As I suspected, my approach runs counter to the norm mentioned in your market-research examples.

          I have abandoned my “Brand Loyalty” in certain, specific cases where the manufacturer has chosen to charge the same for a smaller amount of product – as in the case of Hagen-Dasz ice cream, which went from 16 oz to 14 oz.

          Prices go up no matter what – it’s a fact of life. I can remember when the price of a pack of cigarettes was 35 cents, gas was 19 cents a gallon, and you could give a dollar at McDonald’s as payment for a hamburger, fries and a soda — and get change back.

          Dunkin Donuts advertises a cup of coffee for 99 cents, as if that were a bargain – but I remember when a cup of coffee was less than a quarter.

          Consumers may react negatively in response to price increases during a focus group or market research survey — but they continue to buy the product — and the price will still go mup eventually, at some point in the foreseeable future.

          • MutantMonkey says:

            You are correct that prices do go up, but on non-commodity products, manufacturers do a lot to avoid price increases due to the price sensitivity that consumers have. Before a price does increase, there is usually all sorts of measures a company will take before letting that happen. We regularly test ingredient changes, package changes and quantity changes, all of which tend to be more acceptable to consumers as a whole, than pricing changes. Things do get particularly weird with ingredient or recipe changes and can have devastating effects on a heritage brand, so that doesn’t happen to often with well known products that have been around for a while.

            In any case, pricing adjustment towards the more expensive generally always has a unit’s purchased hit while other adjustments test at parity to what would be considered current. A 5 cent increase can cost a company hundreds of thousands.

            • Chmeeee says:

              So are we now going into an era where we’ll never increase prices again because of “market research?” This shrinking product size thing is a recent phenomenon; before they started doing that, prices going up was just a way of life. Sure, there may be a temporary drop in customers with a price increase, but eventually the competitors will have to raise prices as well, and in the end, people are still going to buy just as much food.

              How far down to they go before they have to go back to raising prices? Does the 1/2 gal of ice cream go down to 1/4 gallon, 1/8 gallon, 1 spoonful?

              • MutantMonkey says:

                I think you are taking what I am saying to illogical extremes. Also, reducing quantity to avoid increasing prices has been going on for decades.

                There will be a point where any negative change will be noticed by enough consumers which will cause a manufacturer make a change. It’s all about trade-offs. A company will look at various factors that can be changed, the ones with the most negative impact on costs and customer retention are avoided while another build that has a less detrimental impact will be chosen.

                What I was simply saying in my initial responses is that when it comes to incremental changes, price is the one that is most negatively recognized.

                • Firethorn says:

                  Well, here’s a question then. Do you think that we’ll ever see 1/2 gallon ice cream containers again? Perhaps as gallon containers are hit with the shrink ray enough?

                  Might it end up like drinks did a few years ago – they ended up relabling the ‘super size’ to be the new ‘large’ and dropped their smallest drink container?

            • Straspey says:

              I can recall an instance from a few years ago, when the makers of Tropicana Orange Juice (which, at one time cost 35 cents for a quart) – decided to “upgrade” their packaging with a new and redesigned container — to disastrous results.

              February 22, 2009

              The PepsiCo Americas Beverages division of PepsiCo is bowing to public demand and scrapping the changes made to a flagship product, Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice. Redesigned packaging that was introduced in early January is being discontinued, executives plan to announce on Monday, and the previous version will be brought back in the next month.

              Also returning will be the longtime Tropicana brand symbol, an orange from which a straw protrudes. The symbol, meant to evoke fresh taste, had been supplanted on the new packages by a glass of orange juice.

              The about-face comes after consumers complained about the makeover in letters, e-mail messages and telephone calls and clamored for a return of the original look.

              Some of those commenting described the new packaging as “ugly” or “stupid,” and resembling “a generic bargain brand” or a “store brand.”

              “Do any of these package-design people actually shop for orange juice?” the writer of one e-mail message asked rhetorically. “Because I do, and the new cartons stink.”

              http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/business/media/23adcol.html?pagewanted=all

              Pretty amazing, isn’t it ?

              • MutantMonkey says:

                Oh yeah. That is a good example of heritage products and how certain, seemingly small changes can cause massive issues.

                There was one from a while back where A1 wanted to shift to plastic bottles for their steak sauce. They learned an important lesson in that move, which is when you control a large market share, small, neutral changes will likely cause you to lose more loyal customers than you are likely to bring in new customers.

                • Straspey says:

                  Now that you mention it, I kind of recall the A1 debacle as well.

                  Thanks for your insights – they’ve been helpful, and I’m going to pay closer attention next time I visit the supermarket.

                  • nybiker says:

                    I’m with you on the ice cream situation. I stopped buying Breyer’s when I discovered that I was finishing the ‘half-gallon’ containers a little faster than normal. When I finally noticed the shrink ray effect (and we all know the package change didn’t get any advertisement money), I said forget it. Same with HaagenDaz. 14 ounces is NOT a pint. When I buy pint ice cream, I buy Ben & Jerry’s. Being unemployed these days, that is not something that I pick up (can’t recall the last time I actually had a pint). Same with Trop OJ. Of course, I am also someone that despises naming rights so I have my own little boycott of companies that are naming rights johns. See all the NCAA Bowl games, just about all professional stadiums, fields, et al. And even the names of the golfing and marathon events. It’s not always possible to avoid some of them (like I’ve been a Citibank customer for years, so I can’t switch right now, but when I do, I’m not going to ING or TD or any naming rights bank). So, no Tostitos chips for my snacks. At least I live in NYC, so not buying Pappa Johns doesn’t really hurt me. I am planning to investigate homeowner’s insurance since Met Life signed on for the new MeadowLands stadium in NJ. I don’t know who are the best for homeowners insurance but State Farm & AllState are bowl game johns, so they are out of the question. If I can’t find anyone, well, at least I tried.

                    Another reason to watch what stuff you buy: stay away from any ‘celebrity’ endorsement crap. Or something that’s an Olympic sponsor or the official widget of some organization. Again, not always possible to avoid them, but I try.

                  • MutantMonkey says:

                    No problem man.

    • Cat says:

      If it is an ingredient I use for cooking, it pisses me off a lot. Having to use 14 oz box of product + 2 oz from another box to get the 16 oz I need is just crazy. But even when it doesn’t affect my cooking, it still pisses me off – just not as much.

      I’d rather pay a few cents more for a full size package, and I seek out other brands that didn’t shrink their products.

      • Firethorn says:

        I’ve really encountered this with my family’s old recipe for tuna noodle casserole. It calls for a can of cream of chicken soup. They’ve shrunk the can, but not the amount of egg noodles in a package.

        80% of the soup(if that!) isn’t enough to leave the recipe sufficiently moist, and you don’t really want to open another can. On the other hand, not boiling up an whole bag of noodles is also a huge pain…

        I’m still working on a way to adjust the recipe.

    • alexiskai says:

      I am the person who took this photo. The goal of posting the photo to Consumerist was not to spark a boycott, but rather to alert other Triscuits buyers that the value proposition of the product has changed slightly. If you have a price point for Triscuits, as I do, perhaps your price point will change now that you’re not getting as much. Or perhaps you’ll shift consumption to another cracker that offers more oz per dollar. My intent was simply to create better-informed consumers.

      Incidentally, I never buy rosemary/olive oil Triscuits – I cannot with a straight face purchase something labeled as “natural flavor with other natural flavor.” My tastes run strictly to rye with caraway seeds.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they shrink-ray’ed the product AND raised the price at the same time.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      I am more incensed by the reduction of quality in familiar products than I am the price or size. I’ve found over the years that many products I used to enjoy have become so poor they are no longer worth buying at any price. And I would be willing in many cases to spend the extra money in order to get the higher-quality product that they no longer make. It’s a horrible and pervasive practice that seems to be growing at an exponential rate and makes me wonder just how low they can go before shoppers just say “enough is enough”.

    • Rena says:

      I’d much rather pay slightly more for the same amount than pay the same amount for slightly less. That way it doesn’t feel like they tried to hide the change from me, and I don’t have potential issues where one package is no longer enough, e.g. for baking.

      Inflation happens, and when it does, I’m going to favour the brands that don’t try to pull a fast one.

  4. Cat says:

    I just remembered that Ritz crackers have gone from 16 oz to 15.1 oz, too.

    • Rena says:

      Then there’s Chef Boyardee canned mini ravioli… maybe I just got a bad batch, but the pack I bought recently has very little ravioli, mostly just tomato sauce. Wasn’t like that before.

    • HeatherB says:

      Don’t forget Oreos, (Nabisco strikes again) who took a price increase AND went from 16oz to 15.3 oz recently.

  5. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Not sure how long it’ll last, but when my local grocer pulled this shit with my favorite microwave popcorn I went here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Triscuits-Rosemary-Olive-9-5-Ounce-Boxes/dp/B000F9XBCA/ref=sr_1_7?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1335293048&sr=1-7

    I’ve been getting my popcorn through Amazon for a while now and I can still get the pre-shrunk amount for less than what I was paying in the store.

    • The Cybernetic Entomologist says:

      You can’t get away with messing with package sizes too much on microwave popcorn, since most microwaves are preset for specific package sizes. If you shrink that too much, your customers end up with burnt popcorn.

      • HomerSimpson says:

        Oh but they do it anyway…I’ve seen varieties with bags from like 1.5 ounces up to 3.5 or so. And no doubt their philosophy is “Oh too bad you burned it…just buy some more!”

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      I just think that if they’re going to shrink it, I’d appreciate if they also shrunk the package. I’d rather have a product that was shrunk without any pretentiousness rather than end up feeling like the usual package you grab from the grocery shelf suddenly has half the amount you normally had.

  6. Pete the Geek says:

    In my opinion, companies that do Grocery Shrink Ray don’t care for their customers. If a company must raise the price of their products due to justifiable increases in expenses, they can put a message on the box or on their website. “Valued Consumer, we have had to raise the price of our Triskuit Crackers 5% due to increases in the cost of wheat and transportation. We value your patronage and trust you will understand.” Instead, they try to sneak a substantial change to the value of their product by us. If they are willing to do that, what is to stop them from secretly switching to cheaper ingredients? Perhaps they will find an FDA approved “edible wood pulp filler” (EWPF) to use to replace some of the expensive wheat?

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      It depends on how price sensitive the product is and the number of viable alternatives. For something like crackers, where there are plenty of alternatives and you own a top name brand (considered to be expensive or a luxury compared to the others), price is probably very sensitive.

      Raise the price 20 cents and lose X sales per month impacting the bottom line by amount A.

      Change the size instead and lose Y sales per month impacting the bottom line by amount B.

      The only real question is which is smaller, A or B?

      • HomerSimpson says:

        Most figure people are too stupid to notice they shrunk the page size.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          That is no doubt a consideration in the decision. Price change is much more likely to be noticed. That might be mitigated a little because many stores now have shelf tags that display price per ounce, but for the most part I’m sure you are correct.

        • HomerSimpson says:

          “PAGE SIZE” ?!?

          Good thing nobody noticed when I meant “package size” :)

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      SAY NO TO BROWN SLIME

  7. krantcents says:

    Why is it acceptable for food companies (candy included) to do this? They have been doing it for years. To me, it seems dishonest!

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      because, unfortunately, people keep buying the products

  8. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    I’m more concerned about the line: Natural Flavor With Other Natural Flavor

    I wonder if it’s a misprint that one of those isn’t in quotes.

    • The Cybernetic Entomologist says:

      I had the same concern.

    • redskull says:

      Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to just say “Natural Flavors?”

    • alexiskai says:

      FYI, here’s the official ingredients:

      WHOLE WHEAT, SOYBEAN AND/OR PALM OIL, MALTODEXTRIN, SALT, SPICES (INCLUDES ROSEMARY), MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER), ONION POWDER, NATURAL FLAVOR, OLIVE OIL

      I assume the awkward phrasing means “flavored with rosemary and then boosted with MSG and various chemicals.”

    • Missing in Vlissingen says:

      That’s pretty funny. It seems like a prominent place on the package to say something so strange.

      My guess is that it’s a requirement if the product doesn’t have any actual rosemary or olive oil in it. So this is just the FLAVOR of rosemary and the (other) flavor of olive oil.

  9. BlueHighlighterNextToACoozie says:

    My triscuits did not have cheese on them?

  10. awesome anna says:

    But what about the children?! Did anyone think of the children!!!!

  11. Caveat Emptor says:

    Soon everything will be in 100 calorie packs, just by default.

  12. Wathnix says:

    This is a long running practice in the packaged food industry, they reduce the amount of product per package every year for three years, then raise the price and restore the original amount per package. They do this to combat inflation, since they do not want to raise the price every year.

    • StopGougingMeThere! says:

      Absolutely! People would get pissed if the prices went up 35 cents every 2 months versus losing an ounce of product here and there so logically what they don’t know won’t kill them. Though admittedly I would have thought people would have been vocally outraged when the half gallon measurement for ice cream went away. That seems to me is the most obvious victim of the Shrink Ray in the last 30 years!

      • Firethorn says:

        I wrote breyers when they shrunk their package. Got a letter ‘apologizing’ but saying they’re keeping the smaller containers and a couple coupons.

        Still aren’t buying their ice cream anymore until they offer it in a half gallon size or larger.

  13. sveyden says:

    I have always suspected that the box or packaging plus various markups and commissions along the supply line and marketing costs more than the product inside. Think about soda (which I don’t drink), I know flavored sugar water doesn’t cost anywhere near the +- $2.00 per liter charged, but the real costs lies in bottling, transportation and stockholder dividends. Instead of reducing the amount of product , it would be better to just raise the price by 5% or keep it the same and let everyone in line make a little less and make it up in volume from hooked customers.

    • bhr says:

      The problem, as so many have stated, is that customers will switch products over a price change faster than a size change.

      A 10% price change is immediately noticeable to most customers, and many will jump to an alternative. A 10% size reduction isn’t nearly as noticeable, or likely to force a jump.

  14. Foot_Note says:

    ive noticed they have done it to the cashews too.. now a 14oz container? dont have a old tin, but know it was bigger

  15. SecretAgentWoman says:

    I used to get a cool 20 grams of protein in my small lunchable I would eat every afternoon. Then I noticed the slices were thinner, and there was a “pimple” or button at the bottom, pushing up the cold cuts and making it appear that there was more in the package then in reality. I checked nutrition, yep, only 15 grams of protein. They gimped my go to nutritious snack! FARK EM, I will never buy them again (and I bought 5 packages a week before). I now buy my cold cuts and crackers in bulk, and roll them into sandwich bags and get the amount of protein I damn well want. I would have stayed with just a price hike, but they are messing with my health as far as I’m concerned.

    And don’t get me started on cans of tuna. YOU did notice that the tuna helper boxes tell you to use 2 cans of tuna these days instead of one right? Because of the shrink ray, there is hardly any meat in the cans anymore.

    I’m so depressed.

    • nybiker says:

      Yeah, I stopped buy cans of tuna years ago when they went from 6.25 to 6.00 ounces. Of course, they left all the water in the can. Nowadays, the tuna cans are down to 5.00 ounces. It isn’t worth the trouble (and risk of slicing my finger on the lid) of buying those cans.

  16. TacoDave says:

    Karl: I ate some Triscuit crackers in the car, you should have had some.

    Eric: Well, maybe if you told me they were delicious Triscuit crackers I could have enjoyed them with you.

    Karl: I’m sorry.

    Eric: Well, “sorry” doesn’t put the Triscuit crackers in my stomach now, does it Karl?

  17. Jawaka says:

    So how many crackers would a half of an ounce be? 2-3?

  18. MECmouse says:

    Packaging is one of the more expensive ends of selling something. I would think they would just raise the price by a little (and I would be glad to pay a bit more than feel like I got gypped) instead of spending more to do new packaging! But that’s just me, I guess.

  19. mischlep says:

    Kraft Cracker Barrel Cheese recently went from 10 ounce packages to 8 ounce packages.

  20. DZ says:

    Maybe the only ‘good’ thing about this is you don’t have to divide with decimals involved when you’re trying to calculate the cost per oz.

  21. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I’m trying not to eat so much processed food. At least I can still buy a gallon of milk that is actually full. And I noticed that not long after I started buying it at Save-A-Lot for under $3 a gallon, the ALDI price went back down to under $3 also. I’m sure that had nothing ot do with me mentioning the price difference to them. But it was nice not to have to drive to two stores today.

    I also agree with Such an Interesting Monster about the quality issue. Many name brands taste worse than the generic anymore. So why not spend less and get those?

  22. dks64 says:

    Do people really expect price per oz to stay the same forever? Should we still be paying 25 cents for a movie ticket, like we did in the first half of the 1900’s? Geez people, get over it. The companies are paying more for their ingredient, thus passing the cost to us. They can either increase the price or shrink the box, either way, you’re paying a little more. It happens and is necessary.

  23. churchofthepoisonmind says:

    When I used to work for disneyland and lived in a motel, I wanted to have mac and cheese. Problem is, I only had a microwave. I kinda found recipes online to make it, but wanted to have it on the side of the box. Turns out Kraft used to put them on the box, but then yanked it off and started selling their pathetic single serve microwave cups.

    This was in 2008. If you go to the store, look for the generic store brand. In this case, it was food 4 less/kroger, it still had microwave instructions on it.

    Not exactly a “shrink ray” as you can still buy mac and cheese in the box, just not with the instructions to microwave it as in the past. Obviously, it’s a blatant attempt to pick your pocket for the $1+ small microwaveable cups “just add powder and water!”

  24. ajv915 says:

    Yes, I can’t believe they are charging me the same price and depriving me of approximately 3 Crackers!

  25. icerabbit says:

    That’s not the first time around they’ve used the shrink ray either !

  26. scoosdad says:

    Shaws Supermarket’s “Shoppers Value” house brand of cookies have been undergoing an onslaught of shrinkage over the past year. First they reduced the number of cookies in the package but kept the package size the same. For plain oatmeal cookies, it used to be 27, now it’s 24. Then they increased the price a bit. Now I notice that the cookies themselves are shrinking in size (I recently compared a new plain oatmeal cookie to an older ‘iced’ oatmeal cookie I bought over a year ago by mistake, and the difference was laughable). And the price went up again about two weeks ago.

    I tell you, it’s enough to drive a person back to eating Nabisco. No, wait….

  27. Rick Sphinx says:

    This business model / plan can only go so far, until the package is empty, or has one cracker in it. It’s pathetic. Nabisco, if you need to raise the price, be a man about it, and raise the price! Don’t touch the quality or quantity! There is usually a reason people buy Triscuit and not the store brand….taste/quality.

  28. Cor Aquilonis says:

    But you’ve wasted you money either way, because you’ve traded it for the revolting Triscuits. Enjoy your presssed wheat roughage and chemical slurry. Ick.

  29. buzz86us says:

    what else is new?
    my favorite conditioner (suave professionals) has gone from 32oz to 28oz.
    Fun size Candy 8packs have been turned to 6 packs.

  30. nocturnaljames says:

    its called inflation, and you can thank the fed. its not the evil corporations. they have increased costs, so they either raise prices or reduce product size, the latter less likely to irritate consumers.