Saturday, January 02, 2010


Buy the jar by the jar

'Pepper Supreme' mix, old and new bottlesI like to freshly grind a peppercorn mix, with black and red and green peppercorns together, and I go through a lot of it. I’ve found a brand that I can readily get, which isn’t too expensive, and which comes in a large enough bottle that I don’t have to buy it too often.

I just bought a new bottle, and to the right is a photo of the old bottle, on the left, and the new one, on the right (click to enlarge). It’s the same brand — they’ve changed the label, as they tend to do. But that’s not all they’ve changed. It’s hard to tell, even with them side by side, but the new bottle is ever so slightly smaller. And look at the labels: on the left, net weight 286 grams; on the right, 276 grams. They’ve given me 3.5% less product, along with some 5% increase in the price of the package — an effective price increase of 8.8%.

I wrote about this sort of thing before, a little more than two years ago, but that’s long enough that I thought I’d mention it again. I find the ethics of it questionable, especially when the manufacturers seek to hide the reduction. Technically, they’re being honest: the package lists the weight of the contents, and they’re not lying about that. But they’re relying on people not looking at the numbers too closely, and they’ve designed the container so that you can’t tell it’s gotten smaller.

Indeed, when I bought the new bottle I was pleased that the price hadn’t gone up more than it had. It was only when I compared the bottles (and labels) that I realized it had gone up by more than I’d thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Consumerist has a great term for this: the grocery shrink ray.