Shrinking Supermarket Products Equal Hidden Price Increases

5:25 PM, Jan 4, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- People are watching every penny in these tight times.  But, when it comes to the supermarket aisles, customers are paying more as products are shrinking.

Consumer Reports' Tod Marks says this practice essentially amounts to a price hike that companies hope goes unnoticed by you. 

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

For instance, the latest downsized Scott toilet paper.  The old roll had 115.2 square feet.  The new roll has only 104.8 feet.

Marks says, "Like many other toilet paper manufacturers, Scott is faced with rising costs.  So, to align themselves with the rest of the industry, they shrunk their roll, about nine percent in fact."

But Scott isn't the only company shrinking products.  Tropicana Orange Juice was 64 ounces but is now 59 ounces.  That's a nearly 8 percent drop.

Haagen Dazs' 16 ounce ice cream pint shed two 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 ice cream pint is a solid 16 ounces.  Also another option is to simply complain.

"Call the 800 number that's on the package of virtually every supermarket product that's out there and tell them, 'Why did you do this?'  Every time we did that we were offered coupons," says Tod Marks.

And, of course, you can always keep an eagle eye out of new downsized products.

If you want to save even more, 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, consider buying 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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