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How Corporations Have 'Downsized' American Consumers


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Have you noticed smaller sizes or strange happenings to some of your old standby products on market shelves recently? I have - and I'm not fooled nor am I happy about it.

My local newspaper, The San Diego Union - Tribune, called this to my attention recently. I suspected some products in stores had changed, that some looked smaller or slightly different. I just didn't realize how sneaky corporations had become.

Manufacturers have, I suspect, been fighting raising prices to cover rising costs, especially shipping, by changing packaging to make the product look larger or altering the container size to hold less of it. In many cases prices haven't changed in relation to the size of the container; the net amount of product you get with each purchase has. Or, you are paying less for a smaller amount, but more in price per unit.

For instance, a popular brand of peanut butter is in what appears to be the same old jar. However, upon closer inspection you will notice a new indentation about the size of half an egg on the bottom. The jar is the same size, and same price, but it holds about one ounce less peanut butter. Only if you carefully read the new label and remember how much was in the old container would you realize the trickery involved.

And, have you tried finding the old 20 ounce Pepsi six packs in the market? I can't, but I do see a 16.5 ounce size in six packs replacing it at 3.5 cents an ounce and a 12.5 ounce size in twelve packs at 3.2 cents per ounce. Gone are the 20 ounce sizes at considerably less per ounce. As a result the price per ounce is now higher in smaller bottles. Come on, Pepsi, did you think I am so stupid that I would not see what you have so cleverly done to my ‘Old Pepsi’ in order to sell more thinking I am paying less per bottle? Not so fast!

Last week I noticed my regular butter, a major brand name, was in smaller quarters in a smaller box. I don't think it was any less expensive though. Cows must be demanding more hay? Maybe that new law passed this past election in California requiring better treatment of animals is the result, but I don't think so. No, I think I have been downsized and am now paying more per ounce of butter.

Yesterday, my sweet tooth acted up so I bought a package of mini Baby Ruth bars by Nestle. The package said it was an eight pack, but the packaging was large enough to actually hold nine bars. It was intentionally made to look larger and thereby appeal to my desire to buy some candy thinking I was getting more than I actually did. Other similar Nestle mini packs also were equally deceptive. Come on, Nestle, your product is good enough without trying to con me into buying it! Shame on you - and all other such companies who use similar tactics!

This is a widespread deceitful practice of placing a product in an oversized package. When you get it home and open it, you find this tiny object in a big box. This is not only misleading, it is wasteful in that these package materials now must be discarded to the landfill. The product, many times, could easily have been packaged in a box about half the size. However, you, the consumer, were impressed by the fancy, big package you thought you were buying of the product. Corporations know this and package accordingly - and deceptively. There oughta be a law!

This downsizing trend is misleading and an unfair business practice, I recon. Unless you remember to check the very small sign on the shelf concerning price per ounce or other unit of measure - and remember the old price per unit - you may have been duped into buying a lesser amount and paying more. Not my style of shopping - I want more and to pay less.

Corporations must have taken Barack Obama seriously when he suggested we “share the wealth". I'm not so sure he had this in mind when he recommended that, but I don't think I should be paying more for a lesser amount no matter what he meant. I'm not willing to share whatever measly wealth I have with big corporations regardless of the reasoning.

Corporate ‘spinners’ have justified this by saying words to the effect “Consumers don't want to pay $4.00 for a jar of peanut butter (or whatever other product they have jimmied)!" I suppose that justifies the scam in their minds - though not in mine. How about you?

Major Dennis Copson is retired from The United States Marines and is a resident of Oceanside, CA where he is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Nature's Big Bud Liquid Worm Castings, Inc. and Go Green Aid Company, makers of a ‘go green’ quality canvas shopping tote bag. He is also a freelance writer. More info is available on his websites at and


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