The Consumerist’s Ben Popken on NPR’s “All Things Considered”

Yesterday, Ben Popken from the Consumerist was on NPR’s “All Things Considered” talking about how the products we purchase at the grocery store are shrinking and yet we’re paying the same amount! You can listen to the interview here.

One thing that they didn’t talk about was just HOW EXPENSIVE these size reductions turn out to be. For instance, Tropicana recently reduced their 96oz. containers to “new improved” 89oz. containers but left the price the same (for this example we’ll say the price is \$3.99 per container). What was the price increase as a percentage?

Here’s a look at the math:

Notice that the size reduction of 7.29% means a PRICE INCREASE of 7.87%! To put that in perspective, if Tropicana simply raised the price of the 96oz. container by the same percentage, the new price would be \$4.30! This is why companies like size reductions. They’re much sneakier and give the companies much more leeway to significantly raise prices!

6 thoughts on “The Consumerist’s Ben Popken on NPR’s “All Things Considered””

1. Mitch says:

I often buy Purdue’s “Perfect Portions,” which are six individually wrapped chicken breasts that you can throw in the freezer and then use as need.

At least — they USED to be six breasts!

Last time I bought them, suddenly there were only five in the bag. It wasn’t a packaging error or anything. It said “5 chicken breasts” on the package, clear as anything. Still costs the same, though. 1/6 less food for just the same price.

2. Craig says:

This isn’t a company being sneaky. With rising costs they have no choice but to raise prices or reduce portion sizes.

I guarantee it doesn’t cost 7.29% less to make the 89 oz. carton than the 96 oz. carton. You have to factor in that the packaging costs are nearly the same, and it disrupts their largely automated product lines to switch to a new container.

So if they could just charge 7.29% more, they would. They have obviosly decided (whether it’s correct or not) that people won’t buy juice for \$4.30.

As always, supply and demand balances everything out. If a company is charging too much, somebody will eventually step in and take your business from them. Companies aren’t out to “get” you.

3. Andy says:

My store posts prices per unit, so this has no effect on me.

4. Craig,

I don’t care if companies are not trying to take advantage of me or not. All I know is the size of the products that I buy are reducing while the price is staying the same. Company motive means little to me.

5. I agree that on the surface it seems sneaky. But craig has made some a few great points as well.

They do have to pay more in shipping costs to get it to our local grocery store.

The great American principle of capatalism will always allow other companies to step in and sell the “larger sized” portions if there really is something to this deception.

6. The thing that bothers me about these price increases isn’t that they’re justified or not due to the increased cost of commodities. It’s that if and when producer costs decline, will the packaging increase in size? Or will they charge me less? You can only cross your fingers that market forces will regulate costs in both directions.