While the size packaging might not seem immediately relevant in a book centering on nutrition and health, I’m of the opinion that it’s plenty important. When you’re paying for air, the food dollar has wasted.
Almost people have encountered the irritation, and disappointment, of discovering that a bag, jar, or box contained a lot less than we had arrived expecting. Sometimes we’re not really being shortchanged. There are functional factors behind "slack fill" in packages, like protecting delicate and breakable contents during transport. But cutting quantity in order to avoid raising prices can be a time-honored tactic for manufacturers in tight economies. And in this place, too, many shoppers are noticing a trend toward stealthily shrinking package sizes. Deloitte’s 2011 Consumer Food and Product Insight Survey found that nearly almost three-quarters of respondents (74 percent) the size some packaged goods is smaller.
Packaging to Price
The practice of manipulating package design or size to disguise price increases is known as "packaging to price" and manufacturers are becoming very clever in internet marketing. Here are just a few techniques they hope busy shoppers won’t notice:
Changing the design of the package. Reducing the depth, and not the width, of familiar boxes. From Plain plastic bags , everything looks a similar.
Distracting from smaller sizes with banners like "New E-Z pour bottle, " or "Same Great Taste." Describing new, but smaller, packaging as "greener," "future friendly," or with the exact same terms to claim that it uses fewer resources in manufacture.
Packaging in larger containers, bags, or boxes to conceal product price hikes. The packages may say, "Now, 40% more!" But you’re paying 50% more.
Adding more brine, syrup, or water to canned foods. Packaging in new, visually identical containers, but slightly lowering the content food. Here the "pound" of bacon suddenly weighs 15 ounces as well as the "pint" of soft ice cream contains only 14 ounces.
Black Hole Tactics
While packaging to price can be defended since the simple exercise of free market principles, some "black hole" tactics are especially deceitful. These include:
Adding dimples on the bottom of jars or molded packages Including useless partitioning inside packages, or bags inside packages Concealing pure emptiness, not evident at purchase, under bubble or blister packaging
Let the alarm bells stop if you notice new packaging to get a familiar product. Be sure to look at the price label to see if you’re actually getting you suspect slack fill, consider the net weight of the product under consideration and compare weights and box sizes of nearby products. To file a complaint, contact an FDA district complaint coordinator. A list of coordinators per state could be found here.