March 30, 2011

Food Packaging Gets Tricky: Smaller Packaging for the Same Price

Food packages
Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain
A couple of weeks ago, I roamed around my local grocery with a list of items that I had purchased in January 2008 and compared what the prices were today, in 2011.

You can read that comparison for yourself here.

At the time, I thought "tricky, tricky" when I discovered the can of diced tomatoes and the box of pasta were both packaged in smaller amounts.  Not a huge difference, but it would add up fast enough if you were the manufacturer/supplier. 

Today, while surfing the web, I discovered that I'm not the only one wondering about this little trick.  At the New York Times, Stephanie Clifford and Catherine Rampell have written an article published today, "Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags," where they've investigated this national trend -- something that isn't new, they've been doing this for decades -- and its current guises:  companies are going green, offering more portability, etc.

No company wants to flat out admit that they're trying to keep that price on the can or box or bag from rising, and they'll just change that container before they'll up the price -- because maybe you'll choose not to buy their goods if you see that number rise.

Maybe you will, maybe you won't.  Truth is, food is food - and if you're needing two cups of tomato sauce for your recipe, you'll buy accordingly.  Some folk will be fooled by this trick.  Savvy shoppers won't.

Here's the reality.  The dollar is worth less, and things are costing more.  We're impacted by things like the rising cost of oil much more than in our gas tank.  (See my earlier post listing lots of products made by petroleum to get an idea.)

Times are tough, and getting tougher.  Which just makes living a life of voluntary simplicity that much smarter, IMHO. The fun, peace, quality of life -- that's just an added bonus or three ....

6 comments:

Angel Jem said...

I noticed this most with a pack of mince here in the UK, from 500g for £1 to 450g and this year it's down to 400g for the same price. Like you say, it's been going on for years, but I think this year it's happening everywhere and all at once. Scary.

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Angel Jem,
Wow, so this is happening in the UK, too? Geez Louise. You're right, this looks like it's happening everywhere and that is scary.

I'm also wondering if they're adding more water to the soups, etc. Stuff to keep the weight of the container about the same, but cheaper for them. Guess I need to read up on the requirements on those ingredients lists on the sides of the cans.

Thanks for writing!
Reba

Anonymous said...

Reba
While searching for something on food prices of TX and SA I found your blog. Very informative. I have a possible job position from SA, TX and want to know if you can give help on:
1. Generic cost of living (food prices like milk/gal, vegetable prices (we are pure vegan) etc.
2. Cost of apt like 2 bed 2 bath
3. Allergy. Is it true that SA is allergy capital of the world? So everyone is sick with some allergy?
4. 60% population is mexican I heard and there is rampant crime and every neighborhood is becoming bad by the day, some google link says. Is this true?
5. Any idea about school system? We are KY (Fort Knox) and may move to SA (Ft. Sam Houston) if things work out. Thanks for your reply in advance.

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Anon,
Well, first things first - welcome to SA (hopefully)! I love San Antonio, and I'm happy to share what I can about my hometown (please feel free to email me with more questions - rkennedy at texas dot net). In answer to your comment:

1. Generic cost of living (food prices like milk/gal, vegetable prices (we are pure vegan) etc.

We really only have two chain groceries here: HEB and Walmart(there are some SuperTargets, too). Since you're vegan, you'll probably be more interested in WholeFoods or SunHarvest (a local health food chain bought out by WildOats). SunHarvest is very reasonably priced, I prefer it to WholeFoods. I'll post more on food prices here next week.


2. Cost of apt like 2 bed 2 bath

Depends on where you want to live here in SA. Since you'll be at Fort Sam, perhaps you might want to rent close to work. Thinking 2/2 will run you $800-1000/month or more. Fort Sam is surrounded by older homes and historic neighborhoods. Newer apts will be further away from FSam.

3. Allergy. Is it true that SA is allergy capital of the world? So everyone is sick with some allergy?

I rarely suffer from allergies anymore - one of the benefits of this simplicity lifestyle! However, we do have a cedar season and an oak season that hit lots of folk hard. There's lots of green here, which means pollen ....


4. 60% population is mexican I heard and there is rampant crime and every neighborhood is becoming bad by the day, some google link says. Is this true?

The Drug Cartels are very active down at the Texas-Mexico border. My friends here who are Mexican-American with families in the border towns (in either country) have stories and concerns. The biggest problem that I hear about here in SA is drunk driving - and the DA is fighting hard against it. Maybe the Cartels will become a bigger presence here in SA, but right now the Alamo City isn't crime central.


5. Any idea about school system?
Near Fort Sam, you have the Alamo Heights School District which is great. NorthEast ISD is close, too, and that is another excellent choice.

We are KY (Fort Knox) and may move to SA (Ft. Sam Houston) if things work out. Thanks for your reply in advance

Happy to help -- and let me just end all this by sharing my love for Fort Sam. It's beautiful. I live close to the post. Every morning I awake to the bugle call and every evening at 11, we can all hear Taps play over the hills. Wonderful. Of course, no one can roam the post b/c we're at war - but as a teen, I remember touring the place where they kept Geronimo, going to the movies at the old Taj Mahal moviehouse, and even visiting my future 1st husband at the med ctr where the Presidents came. Green, pretty historic buildings, old trees, cool lamp posts. Fort Sam is something every American can be proud of - and obviously, it's nothing less than what our troops deserve. Whew! Soapbox over! LOL

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