Consumer Reports Reveals Shrinking Products

Manufacturers are shrinking the size of their products.

April 26, 2010, 4:05 PM

Jan. 4, 2011— -- Are you getting less cups of o.j. from that carton of Tropicana these days? Are you running out of toilet paper before the next planned shopping trip?

If so, your mind is not playing tricks on you. And the kids are not playing hide-and-seek with the household goods. The products are shrinking.

"From toothpaste to tuna fish, hot dogs to hand soap, companies have been shaving ounces and inches from packages for years," according to a study released by Consumer Reports.

In some cases, the reduction was as much as 20 percent, according to the study. To keep consumers from noticing the incredible disappearing act, manufacturers have grown clever about packaging.

"It's one of the oldest tricks in the books," says Sally Greenberg, executive director at National Consumers League, a consumer organization based in Washington, D.C. "It's a very common practice. I think it's unpopular and I advise companies not to do it."

With fuel prices and the cost of ingredients rising, companies may add a little air with your next ice cream purchase, or they may add a slight indentation to a container to shave the size of the product.

"I think it's deceptive on the part of companies. If they have to pass prices along, they should explain 'we have higher fuel prices and we have to make up the price somehow,'" says Greenberg. "I think it makes consumers mad, it makes them cynical about being deceived and consumers would appreciate a more straight-forward approach," says Greenberg.

"Manufacturers make subtle changes to the packages but generally keep the price the same because when prices rise, buyers often seek cheaper alternatives. And the bottom line is that consumers are more attuned to changes in price than packaging," according to Consumer Reports.

The report in the February edition of Consumer Reports magazine suggests consumers consider switching unit prices, stock up and save, buy in bulk or contact the company.

"Unit pricing is one of the great consumer victories," says Greenberg. "It does the work for you. You don't have to be a computer genius to do the math."

And, if you're still not happy about the fuzzy math, consider reaching out to companies. "Let them know and make sure the company knows about your dissatisfaction," says Greenberg.

"Companies need to hear from customers and they usually make it fairly easy to do that."

Shrinking Products:

Tropicana Orange Juice

Old Size: 64 oz

New Size: 59 oz

Ivory Dish Detergent

Old Size: 30 oz

New Size: 24 oz

Kraft American Cheese

Old Size: 24 slices

New Size: 22 slices

Kirkland Signature Costco Paper Towels

Old Size: 96.2 sq. ft.

New Size: 85 sq. ft.

Haagen Dazs Ice Cream

Old Size: 16 oz

New Size: 14 0z

Scott Toilet Issue

Old Size: 115.2 sq. ft

New Size: 104.8 sq ft.

Lanacane First Aid Spray

Old Size: 113 grams

New Size: 99 grams

Chicken of the Sea Salmon

Old Size: 3 oz

New Size: 2.6 oz

Classico Pesto

Old Size: 10 oz

New Size 8.1 oz

Hebrew National Franks

Old Size: 12 oz

New Size: 110z