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Give Me One Reason
Tracy Chapman & Eric Clapton

Saint 2.0

Friday, June 27, 2008
Honey, they shrunk our groceries! | 2:45 PM

Same price, but not same size
American food manufacturers shrink package sizes on the quiet

WASHINGTON - AS AMERICANS struggle with soaring fuel and food prices, it must come as a relief that the prices of some items in their shopping baskets are staying the same.

Or are they? While the price tags on some processed food may be unchanged, the amount that Americans get for their money is surreptitiously shrinking.

'There's a grocery shrink ray that has been unleashed on supermarkets,' said Mr Ben Popken of Consumerist.com, a consumer information website.

'Manufacturers have kicked up the stun rate of the shrink gun this year because of rising oil prices and the rising costs of commodities like grain and milk.'

THEN: 32-ounce jar

Hellmann's mayonnaise - a vital ingredient in the egg or tuna-salad sandwiches that feature prominently in bag lunches - has seen its jar trimmed from 32 ounces (907g) to 30 ounces, said Mr Dean Mastrojohn, a spokesman for Unilever, the global conglomerate that makes Hellmann's.

NOW: 30-ounce jar


'So many times, they put 'new improved package' on the label but they would never put 'new, improved and smaller'.'

MS DEIRDRE CUMMINGS, legislative director at consumer advocacy group MASSPIRG, who says package-trimming is thinly disguised price-boosting

It's happening in S'pore too
THE package size of some products being sold in Singapore is also shrinking.
The items include some Malaysian brands of biscuits.

For example, a pack of Hup Seng cream crackers, which used to weigh 500g, now weighs 428g. In addition, the price has gone up.

A company spokesman said the quantity was changed because of the higher cost of manufacturing.

'Flour, palm oil and electricity prices have doubled. So we had to change packaging for 90 per cent of our biscuits,' she said.

A Straits Times check of some American products sold here - including Tropicana orange juice and Hellmann's mayonnaise - showed no change in the size of the packaging.

Manufacturers here said they would not take the downsizing route even if the price of raw materials rises further because it would not be cost-effective in a market of Singapore's size.

'If we change the size of our products, we have to change the size of all our packaging and even have to adjust settings on our machines. It is impractical,' said Mr Thomas Pek, the owner of Tai Hua Foods, which makes soya sauce.

'Anyway, we do not supply on a large scale like some US brands,' he added.


adapted from "Same price, but not same size", The Straits Times



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