Food Prices Going Up As Product Sizes Shrink

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Laura Schamp is the queen of coupons. On her last trip to the store she paid $50 for more than $400 worth of groceries. "I usually spend about two hours a week going through the deals.”

Not only does she watch prices, she also watches product sizes and lately she doesn't like what she's been seeing. "I have noticed the shrinking packages." Up and down supermarket aisles, customers are paying more as products are shrinking.

Consumer Reports says the practice essentially amounts to a price hike that companies hope we won't notice. “It's easier for them to simply shave a little bit off here, a little bit off there and less likely to antagonize customers,” said Consumer Reports’ Tod Marks. “The fact of the matter is people know prices, but they don't know sizes."

Some of the latest downsized items include Scott toilet paper. The old roll had 115.2 square feet. The new roll has 104.8 square feet. Paper towel rolls are getting downsized, too. Procter & Gamble recently cut the size of Bounty by as much as 10 sheets. Tropicana orange juice is also shrinking. It was 64 ounces, but is now 59 ounces. That's a nearly eight-percent drop.

Haagen-Daz’s 16-ounce ice cream pint shed two ounces, a more than 12-percent drop. Some Hebrew National hot dogs are a little lighter these days as well. Daily Finance says Kellogg’s downsized its cereal boxes by 15 percent or 2.5 ounces. That adds up to around two-and-a-half individual cereal boxes.

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. Another option is to 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?” said Marks. “Every time we did that we were offered coupons."

Schamp hopes it doesn't come to that and companies start being more straightforward with consumers. "They just slide it in, see how it goes and hopefully it will take off.”

She even operates her own blog site, and teaches free classes on how to get the most bang for your buck.

Best advice is to keep an eagle eye out for new, downsized products.