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Kraft Downsizing or Protecting Consumers?

This article was written by in Consumer. 19 comments.

In last Sunday’s Consumerism Commentary Podcast, our guest from Consumer Reports, Tod Marks, talked about product downsizing. With commodity prices rising, companies — particularly food product companies — are trying to determine how they can cover their increasing production and distribution costs without losing their competitive edge.

In order to maintain the same price point, companies often shrink the size of their packaging. Sometimes, as pointed out in the podcast, companies use more air to create a lighter product, like whipped yogurt, so that there is less real product in the package. Consumers are mostly aware of these tactics. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, shoppers prefer receiving less for their money than paying more for the same product.

Kraft is a good example. While the company indicated they intend to weather their increased costs without any effect to their customers, they have already decreased the number of cheese slices in their Kraft Singles packaging, a staple in my household as a kid. Shrinking packages can only go so far; the company intends to cut costs on the corporate side. In other words, not only will consumers see shrinking packages, but some of the company’s employees might want to start thinking about polishing up their résumés.


Updated September 8, 2016 and originally published February 23, 2011.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I think cutting packaging cost might be a bad idea. Doesn’t that compromise the safety aspect, especially for something dairy like cheese?

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avatar 2 Ceecee

How clever. Who would think to count the cheese slices.

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avatar 3 TakeitEZ

I agree with Ceecee. It would be hard to notice the difference in regard to this particular product (cheese slices) unless you were looking real close to the package. Most people just grab their regular product off the shelf and throw it into the cart without a second look.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

My first instinct is to be annoyed, but judging by America’s expanding waistlines, I actually think this is a good thing. Please, reduce the amount of cheese I eat even if you have to trick me!

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avatar 5 Anonymous

Just noticed this with orange juice. The store brand is still 64 fl ozs but tropicana and florida natural are under 60.

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avatar 6 gotr31

I usually notice things like that but I had not noticed the orange juice! Smaller packages or raising the prices is the same thing. I am totally annoyed when they do both at the same time!

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avatar 7 Anonymous

How small do you think Tuna Fish Cans can get? They seem to decrease by 1/2 ounce every year of so! They are now down to 5 oz! Soon I feel like I’m going to get a can and it will have NO TUNA AT ALL!!!!!

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I’ve noticed this with ice cream containers. They have been shrinking for years. However, the pendulum is swinging back. Recently, I saw an ice cream container labeled as “new, larger half gallon size”!

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avatar 9 rewards

Best marketing ploy is 100 calorie snack packs.

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avatar 10 wylerassociate

or another marketing ploy like “low fat” and “trans fat free” on the nutrition labels.

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avatar 11 skylog

i do not really have a problem with this being done, as it is on the customer to know what they are purchasing. that said, my only problem is that they state they are going to shoulder the burden themselves, yet, they use the shrink ray, without any notice to customers. again, it is on the customer, but i would rather kraft just say nothing and shrink the packaging.

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avatar 12 tigernicole86

I have to agree with skylog on this one. I’ve noticed this with a few other products(hello, shampoo and conditioner) and I really don’t think it’s about protecting the consumer but maintaining profits. I never really thought of certain things when I was a kid and some products completely went away and or company went away. I thought “oh, too bad” and never realized that there was a company and people working there that weren’t anymore.

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avatar 13 faithfueledbennetts

I buy an organic cereal that has reduced the size of their box due to being more friendly for the environment and all, but they say there is the same amount of cereal inside-Now I am wondering what the real deal is! Sneaky sneaky.

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avatar 14 eric

My Kraft singles! :(

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avatar 15 Cejay

I agree with TakeItEZ that I usually just throw my regular brand in my cart and keep going. Between a fulltime job, household stuff I do not have time to look at everything in the grocery store.

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avatar 16 Donna Freedman

I just noticed that the “suitcase” size Diet Coke now holds *20* cans vs. the previous 24. Yet somehow the box looks the same. Sneaky!
Wonder how long before 12-packs become 10-packs? I also noticed that when Minute Maid changed the size and shape of its bottles they also suddenly held less — even though they looked BIGGER than before.
I wonder if that’s why the 2-liter bottles are changing shape — so they can subtract a few ounces from their contents?

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avatar 17 Luke Landes

Funny that you mention that. I usually get the 12-can fridge packs of soda (for my girlfriend, generally — I don’t drink much soda at all) and I noticed sone new packaging last weekend, with 10 cans rather than 12. I used to be able to get a 12 pack for $3 on sale… Not any more.

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avatar 18 4hendricks

Everything is shrinking – a pound of pasta is 14.5 oz, a can of tuna that used to make 4 sandwiches, barely makes 2 – I can go on and on.

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avatar 19 lynn

My pet peeve is OREOS. The original cookie had an exact amount of filling. Then they reduced it and I stopped buying them. The next step was to create ‘Double Stuffed’. Oh I was so upset over this ploy. I began buying them again because I couldn’t resist the filling. Then , recntly, they began reducing the double stuffed filling and raised the price to close to 4.00. I’ll never buy another Oreo. I stand behind my decision. I’ll even go so far as to call it an ‘executive’ decision.

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