You’d have to take a careful look at the jars of Skippy peanut butter to notice the difference. The prices are the same, but the jars are getting smaller. They don’t look any different, but recently, the jars developed a dimple in the bottom that slices the contents to 16.3 ounces from 18 ounces — about 10 percent less peanut butter.

Other manufacturers are also trimming packages, nipping a half-ounce off their bars of soap, narrowing the width of toilet paper and shrinking the size of ice cream containers. Often, the changes are so subtle that they create “the illusion that you are buying the same amount,” according Frank Luby, a pricing consultant.

Unilever also changed the shape of its Breyers ice cream containers, reducing the contents to 1.5 quarts from 1.75 quarts. Competitor Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream did the same. Kellogg Co. reduced the weight of many popular cereals an average of 2.4 ounces per box. From the front, the size of the box remains the same; only the depth was reduced. Dial shaved its soap bars to 4 ounces, down from 4.5 ounces, but kept the size and look of its packaging the same.

Many of these changes were made when food commodity and oil prices surged to record highs. It’s not clear what the companies will do now that the cost pressures have eased. But according to Luby, they’re not likely to go back to the larger sizes, since any backlash is likely to be small. “Many people notice the change but they don’t protest and stop buying their favorite brand of cereal,” he said. “These brands are strong enough to overcome any backlash.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

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