Higher Prices or Smaller Packages, What is Worse?

Earlier this week I visited my local Kmart to pick up some Nutripals bars for my 3 year old. they are a new item there and are on special sale for 2.99. I was very happy to pay this price, as the cheapest I usually find them is $3.94 at Walmart. The next day I opened up one of them to give to my son only to notice that this bar was noticeably smaller than what I remembered. I still had an old box so I compared and the old bar weighed 1.41 ounces while the new bar only weighs 0.78 of an ounce. That’s almost half the size and their price didn’t drop as much.

Unfortunately, this is just another telling tale of the times. Almost every food company is turning to smaller sizes in order to control prices while keeping their customers happy. This CNN article that appeared Wednesday has specific examples of food packages dropping in size. This Food trade magazine has even more examples.

However, this article shows that people do not want to see smaller packages but are willing to pay more since larger sizes translate into cheaper unit costs. As a customer I feel deceived that food companies are trying to “slip this one” by me. I am afraid that in the end in an effort to maintain sales manufacturers may be creating ill-will.

What can you do to cope with shrinking package sizes?

  • Keep a price book: besides being an important tool for tracking sales and figuring out your stock up points, a price book can help you calculate unit prices to make sure you are still getting a good deal.
  • Be aware: be on the lookout for products that are promoting a “new look” or “streamlined/better” packaging. A new look could mean less product.
  • Take advantage of the situation: expect to find older packages on clearance at stores. Manufacturers and store owners want to see old packaging out of their stores before the new packaging hits the shelves. Stock up on the items that you can.

As a consumer what do you think works better for you? a smaller package or higher prices? What do you think you are more receptive to?

For more frugal ideas head to Crystal’s Blog.