I am a buyer by trade, and I can spot cost-cutting, and price increases a mile away. I and many of my fellow grocery customers, have noticed in recent years, the shrinking of package size on many of the items we purchase in your and other grocery stores. It started with ice cream, about 15 years ago. The standard package size for most ice cream was a half-gallon. Then, the packages shrank, to one and half quarts, with the price remaining the same. Did you think we didn’t notice this? Hey, Tillamook and Unilever, and Pinnacle Foods, we NOTICE when the package shrinks and the price remains the same. That is a Stealth Price Increase.
Lately, I have noticed that the size of the bottles of Simply Lemonade that I buy at Kroger and elsewhere, looked smaller. Well, funny thing, they ARE smaller! A bottle of Simply Lemonade used to be 59 ounces. It is now 52 ounces! With the price remaining the same, that amounts to a 12% price increase! We Noticed! The package of Canola Harvest soft margarine I buy (actually, they don’t even call it margarine any more-it’s “buttery spread”, whatever that means) went from 16 ounces to 15 ounces, and the price remained the same! I Noticed!
Just this weekend, I noticed that the bottle of Kroger Brand Orange Juice, which used to be 59 ounces, is now 52 ounces! Another Stealth Price Increase! Now, I read the Wall Street Journal, and I know that the Florida citrus industry is in trouble, with huge losses to hurricanes last year and the “citrus greening” disease. I know that the less you produce, the more expensive it becomes, and I expected the price of my OJ to go up. What I did not expect, and definitely do not appreciate, is the size of my bottle of OJ shrinking! Now, a bottle does not last as long, and I have to buy my OJ more frequently.
So, I have a suggestion for all you packaged-food makers and grocery store owners. Instead of shrinking the package and hoping your customers won’t notice, try educating consumers. Try hanging a leaflet on the shelf, explaining the elements in the food that cause the price to go up. Try assuming for a change that shoppers are smart enough to notice when their food gets more expensive and telling them why. I would rather pay a little more for my food than have to go to the store more often.
Thanks for your attention, and I hope you take my suggestions to heart. Packaged food makers and grocers are already feeling the competition from online sellers and alternate suppliers courting their customers. Please try not to make it worse!