Consumer Reports: Honey, They Shrunk the Groceries

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What’s next—11 eggs in a carton? A five-pack of beer? Throughout the supermarket, products are shrinking as prices hold steady or even go up. Lisa Stauber, a Houston mom, was caught short lately when her usual three boxes of pasta weren’t enough to feed her large family. “Whole wheat pasta had gone from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces,” she told the New York Times. “I bought the same amount I always buy, I just didn’t realize it, because who reads the sizes all the time?”

The downsizing trend is one that Consumer Reports has been watching for awhile and in our recent report Downsized! we found quiet a few supermarket goods that had slimmed down. Three notable offenders were: Tropicana orange juice shrank from 64 oz. to 59 oz. (7.8% smaller); Kraft America cheese went from 24 slices to 22 slices (-8.3%) and Häagen-Dazs ice cream dropped from 16 oz. to 14 oz. (-12.5%). No wonder you feel like you’re paying more for less.

Often the changes are disguised physically by, for example, indenting the bottom of a peanut butter jar or with clever marketing campaigns. A downsized box of cookies has “fewer calories” or that smaller package is “environmentally friendly,” the Times reported. Indeed.

Manufacturers blame the practice on the rising cost of ingredients and energy and believe that shoppers notice price hikes before package size. So what’s a consumer to do? Here are some tips from our savvy shoppers.