Ever-shrinking grocery products

January 4, 2011 2:39:10 PM PST
Who wants to pay more for anything these days? But up and down supermarket aisles, customers are paying more as products are shrinking. Consumer Reports' Tod Marks says the practice essentially amounts to a price hike that companies hope goes unnoticed.

"It's easier for them to simply shave little bit off here, a little bit off there, and it's less likely to antagonize costumers. The fact of the matter is people know prices, but they don't know sizes," Marks says.

Some of the latest downsized items include Scott toilet paper. The old roll had 115.2 square feet; the new roll, 104.8 square feet. That's a 9 percent drop.

Scott isn't the only company shrinking products. Tropicana Orange Juice was 64 ounces but is now 59 ounces. That's an almost 8 percent drop. Häagen-Dazs' 16-ounce pint of ice cream shed 2 ounces?more than a 12 percent drop. And some Hebrew National hot dogs are a little lighter these days, too.

So what can you do?

Buy a different brand. For instance, Minute Maid's half gallon is still a full 64 ounces. And Ben and Jerry's pint of ice cream is a solid 16 ounces. Another option: Complain. Call the 800 number that's on the package of every supermarket product that's out there and ask them, "Why did you do this?" Every time Tod Marks did that, he was offered coupons.

Other ways to save: Buy in bulk and look for supermarket sales on paper goods and dry foods. They usually happen at regular intervals, so you can stock up and save until the next sale. And Consumer Reports says not to forget about store brands. They're usually 25 to 30 percent cheaper than name brands and lots of times just as good, if not better.

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