Oh my God, it's true. Packages are getting smaller, and many of us aren't even noticing.
This article in the New York Times explains what's going on. Remember those half-gallons of ice cream that so seductively perched in your grocer's freezer? A relic, apparently. Many top brands are now offering a quart and a half or a quart and three quarters rather than the standard 64 ounce (half gallon) size. And you'd better believe there's no blaring seal affixed to the container screaming, "Now! With less ice cream!"
When I read the article, I only half believed it. But walking through my local supermarket yesterday brought the reality home. We're either paying more for the same quantity of food, or we're paying less for, well, less. Which is better?
I'm a stickler for transparency. The more knowledge, the better. Not that I can fault Breyer's ($4.99/1.75 quarts) or Dreyer's ($4.99/1.5 quarts) for coming up with a clever solution to make the out-of-pocket price look more reasonable. Like us, manufacturers are up a creek without a paddle, and it's our responsibility as consumers to look closely at the per unit price. But I'd rather feel the sting of the sticker shock up front and deal with it rather than scratch my head, wondering if my ice cream is really more expensive or if I'm simply getting fewer scoops per carton.
I've become that crazy lady in the market, emitting ever-more-audible "oh my gods" as I push my cart through the aisles. At Trader Joe's, which doesn't seem to be playing this game (to my knowledge), 12 ounces of Organic Grade B maple syrup has been increasing steadily in price. It's now $7.99/bottle. But the bottle still holds 12 ounces, which I appreciate. I've started buying less syrup, and will continue to do so until the price comes down.
I suppose people who only have, say, $50 to spend on groceries per week may feel like they're benefiting, in a roundabout way, from the smaller-packaging system. They can still spend their $50 and continue to get the same variety of products as they did before, albeit fewer ounces' worth.
But it's all a shell game, isn't it?