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Shrinking size, but not shrinking price

November 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Call it a sign of our tough economic times, but some of the groceries you're buying may actually be shrinking in size or quantity without you knowing it. You may be paying more these days, and getting less.It's a sneaky little trick: Whittle down the food content ounce by ounce, hoping shoppers won't notice. But shoppers are noticing and they're not too happy. Even though some folks wouldn't mind cutting some calories, they want to do it on their own terms.

We're used to the beeping that the grocery store cash register makes. But you may hear some beeping out when you ask shoppers about shrinking food sizes.

"They're just trying to fool the public and they're trying to make their money," said one shopper.

It's hard to tell when cans and boxes get smaller unless you're able to line them up side by side. Some tuna cans may look the same apart, but sorry Charlie, they're going from six ounces to just five.

"If your grandmother sent you out to get a quart of mayonnaise, a half-gallon of ice cream, a 10-pound bag of charcoal and a pound of coffee, you're not going to find it. You know, the 10-pound bag is now nine pounds. The 32-ounce is just 30, and you know it's just happening to everyone," said Julius Graham, manager, Hows Market.

Julius Graham manages the Pasadena Hows Market. He said foods have been shrinking for years now. The manufactures claim it keeps them from raising prices but it does raise some ire.

"They think the consumer won't notice, but I do," said a shopper.

"They give you less and charge you more, and that's the American way," said another shopper.

Remember when bottles had flat bottoms? Well today expect to find a dimple to eat up some product space. A bag of Lays chips is "family size." Hope you have a small family.

"Especially chips, you know," said shopper Wendy Kuo. "They add a lot of air into the bag so technically you're getting like half a bag of chips. I don't buy chips anymore."

But try avoiding the ice cream aisle, the scene of some of the biggest offenders.

"The ice cream typically was a half a gallon forever," said Graham. "It was a half-gallon size, and then it went to 54 ounces, the price stayed the same. Now it's gone down to 48 ounces and the price has stayed the same, so who knows where the next step will be."

At least it's easier on your back. And supermarkets can save some bucks when it comes to shopping carts.

This may actually be a good thing. Smaller packages could help Americans lose weight ... at least your wallet may weigh less.


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