We are still getting screwed!!

Do you remember when I told you that we were getting screwed two years ago?

How food corporations were reducing the format of their products while keeping their prices the same, basically pulling a fast one one the unaware customer, a price hike by stealth?

How Nestlé’s 2 litre container of Real Dairy ice cream was now 1.89 litres?
An actual price increase of 5.5%.

How Miracle Whip‘s 1L format and went down to 950 ml then to 890 ml?
An actual price increase of over 6%. Hellman’s soon did the same thing with their mayonnaise!

How le P’tit Québec cheese brick has gone from 540 g to 500 g?
An actual price increase of 7.4%.

How Pringles‘ boxes of chips went down from 163 g to 140 g?
An actual price increase of 14%.

How Post and Kellogg shrunk their cereal boxes to 411g from the 510g format?
An actual price increase of 19%. General Mills soon followed with a similar downsize.

How Häagen Dazs dropped its pint of ice cream to a smaller 14 oz container?
An actual price increase of 13.5%.

Turns out, the trend is not over. In order to fool consumers, more corporations are downsizing their format while keeping prices at the same level.

In today’s La Presse, Marie Allard gives two more recent examples of food corporations taking advantage of consumers unawareness. Canadian families are working hard, have played by the rules, but the rules have changed, and nobody told them, so they are no longer getting they they expect for their money.

Just in time for Easter, Cadbury has shrunk their famous Creme Egg from 39g to 34g – effectively jacking the price of the delicious candy by 12.8%. Produced by Cadbury UK and sold here by Kraft, you can complain about the move here.

And it isn’t only food multinationals who are using the dubious technique: Rougemont-based Lassonde’s Oasis fresh juice’s main format has gone down from 1.89L to 1.75L – families have to pay 7.5% more for their favourite juice – though they would not in all likelihood notice at all. To complain to Lassonde, “drop” them a note here.

Same goes for Tropicana! Their 1.89L carton of 100% Pure Florida Squeezed Orange juice has gone down to 1.75L. Tropicana, owned by PepsiCo, needs to hear from you.

Classico’s Pasta Sauce used to be available in a 700ml format. But that is no longer the case as the jar now contains only 650ml. This means that the sauce now actually costs 8% more than before.

Note that in Classico’s case, they’ve actually adjusted their jar to compensate for the downsizing. It is thinner, but taller! Sneaky. The company even explained on its website that the lighter weight of their current jar could make it unsafe for home canning! To discuss this approach, send an email to Classico.

Now, spin is no secret for me, so I’ve got to admire the efforts made by Stefano Bertolli, Lassonde Industries’ Communications Vice-President, to explain the logic behind this marketing decision: “People want quality at a reasonable price,” Bertolli told La Presse. “We therefore have to find other solutions than price increases,” he pleaded. Mr. Bertolli is refusing to call this process downsizing – he calls this strategy rightsizing.


So why is it that I don’t feel it’s right at all?


UPDATE Feb 10, 2011 @10:25: Postmedia reporter Sarah Schmidt informs me that she pointed out some of these and others last year:

  • SunChips bags holds 15 grams fewer chips, reduced from 240g to 225g.
  • Frito Lay Canada “adjusted” a number of bag sizes within its Lay’s, Doritos and Tostitos brands.
  • President’s Choice ice cream containers have been flattened to 1.65L instead of 1.89L.
  • Scott Toilet Paper 1,000 sheet rolls are now 4.1 by 3.7 inches, instead of 4.5 by 3.7 inches.
  • President’s Choice pasta sauces are also packaged in taller but skinnier glass jars.

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