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Products are shrinking, but prices aren't

January 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM 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 a little bit off here, a little bit off there, and less likely to antagonize costumers. The fact of the matter is people know prices, but they don't know sizes," said Marks.

Some of the latest downsized items include Scott toilet paper. The old roll had 115.2 square feet, while the new roll has 104.8 square feet.

"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," said Marks.

But Scott isn't the only company shrinking products. Tropicana orange juice was 64 ounces but is now 59 ounces. That's a nearly eight percent drop. Häagen-Dazs' 16-ounce ice cream pint shed two ounces - that's 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.

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?' Every time we did that we were offered coupons," said Marks.

And, of course, keep an eagle eye out for new downsized products.

Other ways to save are to 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 don't forget about store brands. They're usually 25 to 30 percent cheaper than name brands and many times just as good, if not better.

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