Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags

by on March 30, 2011 · 6 comments

in Economy

By Stephanie Clifford and Catherine Rampell /NewYorkTimes.com/ March 28, 2011

Chips are disappearing from bags, candy from boxes and vegetables from cans. As an expected increase in the cost of raw materials looms for late summer, consumers are beginning to encounter shrinking food packages.

With unemployment still high, companies in recent months have tried to camouflage price increases by selling their products in tiny and tinier packages. So far, the changes are most visible at the grocery store, where shoppers are paying the same amount, but getting less.

For Lisa Stauber, stretching her budget to feed her nine children in Houston often requires careful monitoring at the store. Recently, when she cooked her usual three boxes of pasta for a big family dinner, she was surprised by a smaller yield, and she began to suspect something was up.

“Whole wheat pasta had gone from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces,” she said. “I bought three boxes and it wasn’t enough — that was a little embarrassing. I bought the same amount I always buy, I just didn’t realize it, because who reads the sizes all the time?”

Ms. Stauber, 33, said she began inspecting her other purchases, aisle by aisle. Many canned vegetables dropped to 13 or 14 ounces from 16; boxes of baby wipes went to 72 from 80; and sugar was stacked in 4-pound, not 5-pound, bags, she said.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar RB March 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

All of this is so very true. I have noticed the major brands shrinking there product sizes more than the store brand or generics. Also, I have never been able to understand why whole wheat (healthier) products cost more than a bleached products or why toilet paper pricing is with nonuniform sheets and ply instead of weight.

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avatar Patty Jones March 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm

The smaller packages will affect recipes if you don’t pay attention. Recipes that call for a can of this or a package of that… Last Thanksgiving I noticed the can of pumpkin I bought to make a pie was an ounce smaller than the year before.

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avatar tj March 31, 2011 at 5:48 am

According to the Obama Administration for the last two years – there has been no inflation.

I’ve been generally supportive – but he seems to look far more like Slick Willie – (who’s sell-outs to Wall Street Greed (& their Republican minions), have given us the current economy, & fellow Warmonger tool & fuel price inflator W) – then the “anti-war liberal for the middle class” that he CLAIMED to be during the election. The only positive I see anymore – is untruthful as O is – MC Cains reality would have probably been worse (if that’s even possible) … I suppose …

I sure see why so many have given up on voting. While I don’t agree that that is the best choice, I understand – given the puppets of the Special Interests that we have to chose from – at least, from the 2 likely to win parties.

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avatar call me thrifty March 31, 2011 at 9:28 am

I for one would rather get a little less than pay a little more. Maybe we will move back towards reasonable size portions and the supersized portions we have all grow accustom to.

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avatar Patty Jones March 31, 2011 at 11:51 am

Thrifty, that’s a good way to look at it!

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avatar Danny Morales March 31, 2011 at 10:20 am

When Truman put wage and price controls on the economy following WWII industry removed chopped beef (amongst other things) from grocery shelves resulting in a consumer driven electorate. The Congress of 1946 gave us the National Security Act of 1947, Taft-Hartley, the CIA, the Military Industrial Congressional Complex and the Cold (sic) War. Fast forward to Chalmers Johnson’s “The Sorrows of Empire” where a ruined economy is the sacrifice we make upon the blood altar of capitalist ‘freedom’. I’m gonna hold on to my 7 ounce can of tuna which should hold up better than my 25 cent chocolate bar, my 401K and partisan politics.

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