Consumer Reports: Downsized Packaging

You may be getting less of what you want at the grocery store and not even know it.

That's because some favorite items are getting smaller in size but, unfortunately, the price isn't shrinking.

Whether it's ice cream, orange juice, pet food, or peanut butter, some manufacturers are downsizing.

"It's where they shrink the product and generally hold the line on price," says Todd Marks of Consumer Reports.

Take Fruit Loop boxes. The old box was 19.7 ounces. The new one is down to 17 ounces.

You're also being squeezed on juice. The old version of Tropicana orange juice was 96 ounces. The new one - 89 ounces.

Hershey's newer Special Dark chocolate's giant bar is 6.8 ounces, but it's not as giant as the previous 8-ounce version, which isn't marked giant at all.

"Companies use a lot of different rationales as to why they downsize packaging," Marks said. "Usually, in the case of the companies we spoke with, the primary reason is the fact that energy costs have gone up, raw ingredients and materials have gone up. But a couple of companies gave us some interesting answers."

Tropicana told us they made the container smaller to create a plastic bottle that "...poured easier with less spillage and less gurgling." But there are ways around product downsizing.

"Manufacturers may not always downsize every package in their product line, but only select sizes. So unit prices may give you an idea of what you're paying less for," Marks said.

Consumer Reports shop-smart just surveyed shoppers about downsizing. It turns out many people, 75-percent in fact, said they were aware of the practice and think it's sneaky.

Seventy-one percent said they thought the main reason for downsizing was to hide price hikes from consumers.