Consumer Reports Reveals Shrinking Products

Manufacturers are shrinking the size of their products.

ByABC News
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."