Did the Ice Cream Shrink?

by Kay Lynn

Is it just me or did the ice cream shrink?  I am pretty good about saving money at the grocery store but it’s hard to get ahead when the goods are getting smaller. Can you find a half gallon of ice cream? It’s been replaced by 1.5 quarts.

And I’m not the only one to notice and it’s not just the ice cream.  This recent post @ The Consumerist has photographic proof of shrinking toilet paper. This is the latest in the ongoing Shrink Ray feature at the site.

Why does it bother me?  Instead of coming right out and raising the prices these manufacturers know most of us won’t notice the change…at least not right away.  They are raising the price per unit (whether it be ounces, per item or some other measure) but telling us the reason for the shrinking packaging is to avoid raising prices.  Either way, the price has risen.

 USA Today wrote about this in June 2008 and I’m sure it’s even more prevalent today.

What can consumer’s do about it?  One suggestion I read was to change to products that haven’t shrunk.  Unless there is a substitute that will meet your need just as well, that’s not practical.  But store brands are getting more competitive and deserve a close look.  Upset consumers have written to the companies, but with little success it appears.

Starting a price book will help track what each product costs by measured unit.  This helps you identify right away when the price has been raised as a result of the package being downsized. Over time, you’ll have a helpful resource of what is the normal price for items being tracked.

Maybe there’s hope. One retailer is big enough (and confident enough) to buck the trend.  Costco increased the size of tuna cans earlier this year.  Sure, they undoubtedly raised the price.  Consumers know that the prices have to rise sometimes.  Just respect us and play it straight.

Photo by Karen Horton / CC BY 2.0 

Content © Bucksomeboomer  2009.  All Rights Reserved.

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JoeTaxpayer October 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Indeed, some are 56oz (from 64) and some are 1.5qt instead of the classic half gallon.

When I was a kid, oh, 40yrs ago, coffee was sold in 1 lb cans. When did they change to 13oz, and all the other crazy sizes that aren’t a multiple of anything. In my pantry right now I have a 34.5 and a 39oz can. This makes sense how?
And the tuna cans have a mind of their own, down to what, 5oz maybe?

Bucksome October 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

You’re right; those coffee can sizes don’t make any sense. Just more examples of packaging shrinkage. Thanks for your comment.

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