NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Consumer products companies have long relied on subtly reducing package contents as a way to raise prices without, well, actually raising prices.
So a 16-ounce box of cereal might suddenly carry 14.6 ounces in the same box, without any change in price. Or a pint of ice cream might be filled to 14 ounces, the missing 2 ounces topped up with nothing but air.
The trend may be picking up now as consumer product makers try to balance rising material costs with customers that are reluctant to pay more at the cash register.
Earlier this year, spice maker McCormick & Co. (MKC) - Get McCormick & Company, Incorporated (MKC) Report began putting less pepper into its signature red-and-white tins (its medium size can, for example, went from containing 4 ounces to 3 ounces). A rival sued, claiming the practice was deceptive and gave McCormick an unfair advantage.
Here are a few other products in your shopping cart that might feel a bit lighter lately.
Cottonelle (Photo Credit: Consumerist)
The toilet paper rolls made by Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KMB) - Get Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB) Report were "de-sheeted," the industry's term of art, eight square feet when the company quietly shaved two-tenths of an inch length-wise and 0.14-inch width-wise.
The label for the dish detergent from Procter and Gamble (PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report advertises "2X more," but was in fact downsized two ounces. "Even though our bottles are smaller, we actually added extra cleaning ingredients, and the concentrated formula in Dawn Ultra allows consumers to use less," Proctor & Gamble said in a statement.
Ivory Body Wash (Photo Credit: Consumerist)
The body wash by Procter and Gamble let three fluid ounces previously in its bottles go down the drain, dropping contents from 24 to 21 fluid ounces and downsizing the print text size listing the bottle's contents, too.
The Greek yogurt-maker scaled back its flagship product from 6 ounces to 5.3 ounces, saying the smaller size had become the "category norm" and was easier to compare to General Mills' (GIS) - Get General Mills, Inc. (GIS) Report Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt.