Grocery Shrink Ray Strikes Store-Brand Sugar

The grocery shrink ray has struck bags of sugar in two different parts of the country. Bags that a rational consumer would assume contain five pounds of sugar–since they’ve contained five pounds of sugar for as long as most Americans can remember–now contain four pounds of sugar. Somehow, we don’t think that grocers are doing this as an effort to reduce Americans’ sugar consumption.

Reader Doug in Washington state first noticed the shrunken sugar a few weeks ago. His local grocer was early enough in the shrinkage process that four- and five-pound bags were side-by-side on the shelves.


I was shopping at WinCo this morning and noticed that the bargain brand of sugar (Hy-Top) was stocked in two sizes… and one of them was 4 pounds. This seemed like an odd size, as since for as long as I can remember (probably 30 years), a 5 pound bag of sugar has been “standard”. I also honestly thought that store brands were immune to this sort of thing… and commodities as well.

Note, also the 4 lb brand is more expensive per ounce.

shrunken sugar.JPGMeanwhile, the very next day, reader Karen noticed the phenomenon in Urbana, Ill. She writes:

All my life, both sugar and flour have come in 5 lb. bags. Lately, though, local supermarkets only seem to be carrying 4 lb. bags of sugar- and something tells me it’s not because they’re making a statement that we should eat less sugar.

It’s likely that these two different grocery chains use the same distributor for their store-brand goods, and Karen’s local store has been at it longer. Like all Grocery Shrink Ray hits, the retailers depend on customers to pick up a five-pound bag of sugar and somehow not notice the missing pound.

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