Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Food: "stealth downsizing" is nothing new

Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags

This has been going on for years. Probably forever. Ever wonder why cans and packages of food come in such oddball sizes? When the product was new, it came in a nice, even size, but over the years, companies need to increase profits, and they know people watch prices. It's especially easy to watch prices considering the irritating way so much merchandise is priced, i.e. $3.99, $2.95, $1.99---in any of these cases, a very slight increase will be very noticeable because it will carry over all the way to the whole dollar amount. Instead, they'll sneak in a one ounce reduction in the size of the package, but keep the price the same. And so, eventually that bag of potato chips that used to be an even "one pound" size, ends up weighing 14 ounces, then 12.5; or that can of tomato sauce that used to be exactly one quart (32 fl. oz.) is now 29.5 fl. oz. And so on.

The difference today must be that more companies are doing it, in larger and more obvious increments. The example of the saltines in the article is particularly egregious, and therefore obvious. I've noticed that my toilet paper rolls are narrower than they used to be. This one was easy to spot because they don't fit in the dispenser the way older rolls used to fit. I buy a good deal of food sold by weight, and I watch prices like a hawk. I recently noticed that the chicken I usually buy now costs exactly double per pound compared to what I was paying for it a year ago.

[Of course, we're not supposed to care about any of this. We're just supposed to charge it all on our credit cards and keep our attention on some stupid revolution in Libya, or on sensationalistic, fact-sparse nuclear disaster reports from Japan, or on abortion, or gay marriage, or "crime", or some 13 year old girl who made a fucking video that people apparently hate, or on some bullshit healthcare plan that doesn't do anything substantive, or (most of all) on terrorisim (OMG!) and (gasp) PREDATORS! :-O Never on something mundane and tedious like whether we're going to have enough money to buy food six months from now. Frankly, the media these days is in such a reality-impaired rabbit hole it almost makes that guy in Dr. Strangelove sound rational when he rants about the corruption of our precious bodily fluids.]


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