Ben Popken On TV Talking 'Bout Shrinking Packages

Here’s the clip of yours truly, Ben Popken, on FOX 13 Tampa yesterday talking about the Grocery Shrink Ray that all the writers on the site have been doing a great job of covering. The interview was done over Skype webcam and I think it came out pretty well. “Shrinkage” and “downsizing” may be nothing new, but I think we’re going to see more goods shrinking and by greater degrees in the coming months. It’s practically a secret inflation. At the end of the story they say that some manufacturers are considering doing away with gallons of milk and instead selling 3/4 of a gallon, for the same price. If that happens, I think a lot more messages like the recording of the good ol’ boy upset over the downsized Jimmy Dean’s sausage are going to be left on customer complaint lines across America. As the guy in the New York Daily News shrinking package article (which I was also quoted in, whoo), said, “Soon people will be buying empty bags and empty boxes.”

Shrinking packaging costing you more [Fox 13]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Boatski says:

    moral of the story. milk your own cows, grow your own food, create your own power, etc.

  2. JustThatGuy3 says:

    Ben, honestly, if your package is shrinking, my condolences, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to go on national television to discuss it. ;)

  3. evslin says:

    That guy pissed off about the Jimmy Dean’s sausage downsizing rules.

    “12 ounce god damn roll of sausage…”

  4. martyz says:

    Ben — great interview but that headset’s kinda dorky. I didn’t know you flew helicopters.

  5. sir_pantsalot says:

    “I was in the pool! I WAS IN THE POOL!”


  6. javi0084 says:

    Shrinking? I bought a bag of cereal that said “25% More!!”.

  7. weezedog says:

    One thing that I think needs more emphasis on is the fact that this is really a secret way to increase their profits once costs start to fall again. Eventually prices will start to go back down and when it does happen, do you think they are going to go back to larger sizes? Hell no, they are going to keep the smaller size and run all the way to the bank with the increase in profits.
    If they just raised prices instead of shrinking packages, when costs went back down, they would be forced to reduce prices and lose any additional profit.

  8. catnapped says:

    @javi0084: They meant 25% more (empty) space in your pantry!

  9. Ben Popken says:

    @weezedog: Excellent point!

  10. bbagdan says:

    this is gay. for god’s sake, just raise damned prices and forget this stupid deceit.

  11. MonkeySwitch says:

    Well, at least people are finally wising up to the shrink ray! Good job, Ben and crew. I <3 you guys

  12. MissTic says:

    We need Schooner Tuna. The tuna with a heart!

  13. DeepFriar says:

    So that’s what Consumerist HQ looks like.
    Ben, your parent’s have the nicest basement I’ve ever seen!

  14. Mr_D says:

    Am I the only one that’s amused that the shots of didn’t actually show any grocery shrink ray stories?

  15. crackle says:

    Ben was the first to notice when he realized he finished his ice cream a full 10 minutes before the movie was over – it had taken him years of mastering the ability to read the movie length out of the rental box and pace his 1/2 gallon binge accordingly.

  16. bradym80 says:

    I dont know if it has been discussed yet but the boxes for hot pockets in the store freezer have actually gotten LARGER. The store I was at still had some of the old boxes, WHICH WEIGH THE SAME AS THE NEW BOXES!

    bigger box, same weight.

  17. tbone13 says:

    what’s kind of shitty is that things are not as well made anymore.

    i used to swear by costco paper towels…. they could be brawny to death.

    however, the latest batch i bought sucks ass big time. they rip way easy and just dont hold up to the old ones.

    sizes are down, quality is down… we’re all f*cked.

  18. Shrink size or increase price?

    I vote for shrink size. I have a small family and many product packages are not economical as the product spoils or becomes stale before we finish the package.

    That said, do I want to buy 3/4 gallons of milk? Hell No.

  19. Gnuwave says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember that the number one complaint from companies, when tasked with changing their labeling to be in compliance with new federal rules/regulations (particularly nutritional information), has always been “it’ll cost us too much money to change our packaging.”

    Now, somehow, they’ve managed to very easily come up with the money and have redesigned their packaging in record time.

    Boo. Hiss.

  20. blong81 says:

    @Boatski: Well, legally you can’t milk you own cows to drink the milk, I’m pretty sure. I know for fact you couldn’t milk you cow and sell some to your neighbor to drink because the milk lobbyists have helped to make it illegal to at least sell “raw” milk for drinking. It has to be pasturized and homoginized or whatever. Thanks to the government. I don’t know the last time someone was hurt from drinking fresh milk, but who knows.

  21. dragonfire1481 says:

    Either keep the size the same and raise the price or make the size smaller and LOWER the price. You shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways.

  22. Gopher bond says:

    @blong81: I think you can drink raw milk from your own cow, you just can’t sell it to a neighbor, or maybe you need a permit for both now, who knows?

  23. airren says:

    You can drink raw milk from your own cow. This is why some folks are “sharing” ownership of cows in some communities. That way they all can have access to raw milk.

  24. buyer5 says:

    Have cans of dog and cat food shrunk yet? That could be a viable alternative, mmmmm Savory Salmon Fancy Feast!

  25. P_Smith says:

    Here’s a thought: Peaceful protest through passive aggression.

    Sacrifice and hour of your time and go into any big name supermarket chain. Fill a cart full of products that have reduced contents and go to the checkout and demand a reduction in price by that amount – if there’s 10% less content, state that you will only pay 10% less of the shelf price. Do that for every single product.

    After, when that have refused to lower the prices, refuse to buy any of it – leave a huge amount of product in the cart, hundreds of dollars worth, leaving the store staff to put it away. If this happened repeatedly, maybe stores would begin to pay attention.

  26. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    This what pisses me off about it: recipes are often based on a certain size can or package size. Change the package size and all the recipes based on the old model are now wrong. Of course I’m also pissed about the sneaky way they’re shrinking stuff…

  27. ShadowFalls says:

    I hate the waste associated with these kinds of things. You buy a box of cereal, the box is half full, what the hell, why waste the extra materials to make a box much bigger than its contents? Give a half an ounce or an ounce more and shrink the damn box.

  28. Infe says:

    @ShadowFalls: Well, the contents really do settle after packing; maybe not as much as they claim, but some. I agree that it’s a waste though, even more so with the smaller package. Smaller box equals more wasted cardboard per ounce, simply enough. I’ve been refusing to buy any of the shrunken cereal so far. The generics haven’t started this crap yet…they think they have wheat gold in those boxes, methinks.

    I don’t think any of us would have a problem if they simply shrunk the boxes, but kept the same weight in the box. Probably doable, and keep the savings, I don’t care.

  29. ? graffiksguru says:

    Although I think I’d rather just be shorted a little then have them raise the prices, weezedog does bring up a good point. It is highly unlikely they will go back and increase the volumes back to what they were originally after costs return back to normal (if they ever do).
    Anyhow, great job Ben!

  30. rjgnyc says:

    @testsicles: IIRC, in many states you can sell raw milk but, because it’s raw, you’re rarely allowed to really transport it anywhere so people have to come to your farm to buy it.

  31. Triterion says:

    Blue Bell is really good ice cream! We should all support their efficiency by buying their product. A lot of restaurants use their ice cream for their desserts. yum

  32. therealhomerjaysimpson says:

    Oh please.

    Ben, you would gripe either way. If they raised the price for the same size you’d bitch about paying more (and based on the history of this site and its dubious-at best-complaints about every damned thing, suggesting otherwise is a lie). So instead they change the packaging, and still you kvetch.

    Maybe in fantasy land pricing and quantity can forever remain at whatever mythic number Ben decrees fair, but some of us live in the real world and are perfectly damn capable of understanding the economic reality that either the quantity goes down or the price goes up.

  33. RockStarr says:

    I’d hit it.

  34. I also thought the guy from Consumer Reports did a pretty good job on that same topic this morning on NBC’s Today Show.

  35. RetailGuy83 says:

    @P_Smith: Oh my god, I think you just caused me to puke on myself.

    Grow the fuck up. Additionally, creating more work for store employees IS NOT a good way to lower prices, it is however a good way to get you banned from a store for life.

  36. ninjatoddler says:

    Why’re you always on Fox News? BBC America? CNN?

  37. wring says:

    am i the only one hoping that this would lead customers into consuming less of packaged foods?