No shopper is happy to see a product they’ve purchased for years suddenly missing a few ounces from its previous size. However, this is unfortunately a common practice among manufacturers. When a product costs more to manufacture, the brand can keep the size the same while charging a higher price, or they can keep the price the same while reducing the contents inside the package.
While many shoppers have expressed to me over the years that they would rather pay the price increase instead of being forced to purchase a smaller size, multiple industry studies confirm that what shoppers actually do in the aisle is a different story: Data shows that the majority of shoppers retaliate against price increases on their brand of choice by buying a different brand — at least until that brand follows suit and also downsizes their products.
My readers have spotted more situations of downsizing recently:
DEAR JILL: I have noticed that products are being downsized in a way that is sneaky. It started with orange juice. “Half gallons” became 59 ounces, then 52 ounces. Each time the carton or bottles remain the same height, but they get thinner.
The other day I saw a bottle that is now 46 ounces! That is an 18-ounce loss, but the price is still $3.49.
This has happened over the years with ice cream, too. “Half gallons” are no longer 64 ounces. They are 48 ounces. “Pints” became 14 ounces a while ago instead of 16. I have even seen 12-ounce ice cream being sold as a “cup,” which is misleading, too, as a cup is technically 8 ounces.
I try to use the shelf tags in the store that show the per-ounce price in cents to decide what the best deal actually is. — Jeannie S.
I, too, have been dismayed by the ever-shrinking orange juice cartons. One of my local stores has a store brand of orange juice that still comes in a 64-ounce carton. Unless another brand is a better deal per-ounce or with a coupon, it’s the brand I buy most often.
DEAR JILL: I have had it with products downsizing. I haven’t seen this specific issue addressed though.
We wanted to repaint our bedroom, and I did the calculations and believed I could paint it with 1 gallon of paint. When I went to buy paint at the hardware store, I saw that I could buy paint in a metal can or in a plastic jug with a screw-top lid. The staffer assisting me pointed out that it is easier to close the jug of paint, and it also has a handle for ease of carrying.
I opted for the jug. Midway through painting I realized I was not going to have enough paint. I believed I had calculated the paint area correctly and could not determine where I had gone wrong.
Then I took another look at the jug of paint I bought. It contains 116 ounces of paint. A gallon is 128 ounces. Now, 12 ounces may not seem like a lot, but I am thoroughly irritated that even gallons of paint are being downsized and cannot be called gallons anymore.
I had to buy another quart of paint to finish the room. That was actually a quart, but how long can we call things “gallons” and “quarts” if they are not? — Coleman B.
When I read your letter, the first issue that came to mind is that tintable paint bases are often an ounce or two under a gallon in order to leave room for the liquid paint color additives to be mixed in without the can overflowing. (As an aside, I worked at a hardware store mixing paint throughout my college years, so I am quite familiar with the process!) However, a loss of 12 ounces of paint is significant, and it’s much greater than the fluid space necessary to simply tint the paint. Thank you for pointing this out — I, and I’m sure other readers, will be verifying that a gallon is truly a gallon the next time I buy paint.