Clever, yet Deceptive Packaging that costs you hundreds

Clever, yet Deceptive Packaging that costs you hundreds
Clever, yet Deceptive Packaging that costs you hundreds


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The costs of many of your favorite brand name products have skyrocketed out of control, chances are, due to these clever marketing techniques, you probably haven’t even noticed. It’s the case of the shrinking package! It sounds as though it could be a Scooby Doo caper, but the bottom line is, you’re getting less bang for your buck. Many companies are still using the same size package but are actually putting less product within it, which may leave you wondering why the food just doesn’t seem to stretch like it used to. It isn’t your imagination!

In some instances, the switch is a bit more obvious, like this one:

  • Lays Potato chips bags used to contain 16 oz, yet the same size bag now contains 12 oz

While that doesn’t seem like a big deal, the same bag that may have elicited 6 servings, now only offers 4 servings, which causes you to purchase even more to try to make up for it.

Sometimes the packaging change is so clever that consumers have no idea they are getting less product than before.

Looking at a product directly, it may appear as though it’s exactly the same as it’s always been, many are not, for example, if you look at a jar of skippy peanut butter, the jar height and circumference have not changed, However, if you flip the jar up and peer at the bottom of it, you’ll note a rather deep new crater that is the equivalent of 2 ounces.


It certainly looks the same sitting on the shelf, but that’s 2 fewer sandwiches for the same price. In the photo to the above, we held up a store brand versus Skippy brand, see the indentation? Pretty Clever, huh!

clever-yet-deceptive-packaging-that-costs-you-hundredsClorox Bleach is now 3 quarts, rather than 1 gallon.

clever-yet-deceptive-packaging-that-costs-you-hundredsScott Toilet Tissue advertises 1,000 sheets per roll & while it’s true that there are still 1,000 sheets, the sheets shrunk! They used to be 4 inches and have now been reduced to 3.7 inches.

clever-yet-deceptive-packaging-that-costs-you-hundredsIvory Dish Detergent reduced it’s 30oz bottle to a bitty 24 oz bottle, “due to the rising costs of ingredients and facility expenses”. Six ounces is a full 20% difference! (Image Credit to Consumer Reports)

Paying For Water- This one is particularly bemusing, as it plays on our desires to provide the best product possible for our families.!) Are you aware that when you purchase meats you may be paying for up to 15% of “Solution”. The label may state that it’s meant to improve flavor, or increase tenderness, but in all actuality, the boost is only to benefit their bottom line. To bring this into perspective, if you’re paying $1.99 for boneless, skinless chicken that contains 15% Solution, you’re really paying $2.29 per pound of actual meat; or .29¢ per pound for water “solution” that you didn’t ask for!

Additional Downsized products can be seen at Consumer Reports


Middle Ground– Bulk packages of meats or vegetables can be great deals, but be aware of another clever tactic that is frequently used by grocery stores, packaging the best looking items on top. Generally speaking, the leaner cuts of meat are placed on top and the fattier, more wasteful cuts are placed in the middle. While you may be thinking that you’re going to get a great deal, you might find you’re paying for pounds of fat. This tip doesn’t only apply to meats, be aware that fruits are often bagged this way, with heavily bruised fruit in the middle. These fruits are less likely to be eaten by member of your family and may end up in the trash.

Marketing Excuses:

The companies marketing these products have come up with some rather ingenious excuses for the clever packaging maneuvers, it started with the companies marketing dish detergents; They made claims that the product packaging was reduced to protect the environment. They claim that they’re injecting our food with broth or solutions to make it more tender or flavorful, when in truth, it’s done to enhance their bottom line, to increase profits.

How does this issue directly affect you?

A recent study from Neilsen Co. confirms that 30% of ALL Packaged foods in America have downsized package contents in the past year. It affects you on several levels:

  • Recipes calling for a can of this or a package of that no longer come out correctly. If the original size package was 16 oz and now is only 12oz, you’re missing 1/4 of the package to add to your recipe! To add insult to injury, oftentimes people will open additional cans or packages to add the “missing” ounces to the recipe.
  • You’re paying the Same price (or higher) for less product.
  • The food doesn’t last as long (because there is less of it) and you spend even more money trying to keep up.


About GB101 720 Articles
Filled with an insatiable wanderlust to see the world, I've dedicated most of my life to saving money where I can so I can afford to see and do the things I want. I dug our family out of debt by reducing our grocery expense to less than $300 a month. You can too!


  1. OMG! :sneaky2: That is so SNEAKY- I noticed that some of cans seemed to have less but that peanut butter package is something else!! :thumbdown: I never really thought about the “enhanced chicken” either. I’ll be taking that into account the next time I see chicken on sale.

    Thanks for sharing

  2. Thank you for this info. I will definitely look more closely when grocery shopping, and will no longer purchase any of the above brands. 🙁

  3. this is crazy… i never realized that i the packaging was any different… i try not to buy processed foods and i never buy fruits that are in bags i always try to buy one that i pick out

  4. I thought it was just me. I have noticed smaller packages and packages that seem the same don’t contain as much product. It is so hard to feed my family of 5 I don’t know what to do. I have also noticed that a lot of packaged food just doesn’t taste the same.

    i don’t know what they have done to it by adding fillers or whatnot. I had just said I was going to start cooking from scratch so the food would taste better.
    Thanks for a good blog.

  5. Noticing smaller packages of Oreos and after reading your book we are going to be buying them a LOT less at $4.99 per package or else buying the store brand of sandwich cookies that cost $1.79 instead. I never buy box cake mixes anymore either. I will be baking a lot more Empty Pantry Chocolate Cake or chocolate chip cookies from scratch.

  6. I had noticed smaller packages on some items, but am finding more and more that are in my opinion, less for more cost.

  7. I’ve also found that bruised fruit they put in the middle of the package makes all of the others in the package rot much faster. I try to pick them out right away so they don’t ruin the entire package.

  8. There are MANY more examples! ( I wish there were not!) Most ‘half gallons’ of Ice cream (64 oz) are now only 56 ounces or less. The name brand cake mixes are shrinking too. If you have any of the cake doctor cook books,
    most recipes are off because there is LESS mix in the boxes.

    This is not a recent Phenomena ! Many years ago,
    Banquet had their 2 Lb. frozen entrees ( roast beef or turkey and gravy, Salisbury steak and gravy, mac and cheese, etc.) They were some of the first that we saw shrink. I have noticed some of the canned soups are smaller and even canned vegetables.

    It does not go as far and the manufactures charge so much more now for less of the same products.

  9. I suppose most of you are in the states or some of the western countries but i am almost sure that you have the same/similar as we have here. “fruit stalls”. Just outside the shopping center there are people selling unpacked/packed but not sealed fresh fruit within season and they go pick them from the farms weekly and they are much cheaper. This is a real saver for me it works like magic.

    I have quite often bought those big combo’s for R100 but now have gone up to R150 (3kg carrots, 7 kg potatoes, 7 kg butternut and 7 kg onions) from the fruit and veg markets but they cant last the month most of them rot or they are oversized and doesnt taste fresh or look rather dull. But now I buy most of my veggies from these guys outside the shopping center. Thank you so much for the information on the other information now I can look much closer into these products – South Africa

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