The incredible shrinking food product: commodity prices hit the shelves


The USA Todayreports on something that savvy grocery shoppers may have already noticed. In an effort to avoid raising per package prices in the face of soaring commodity prices, many food makers are shrinking the size of the packages.

Ice cream packages have gone from 1.75 quarts to 1.5 quarts. 10 ounces of chips instead of 12. A roll of Bounty paper towels has gone from 60 sheets to 52. Oh the humanity! A Nielsen executive who tracks these things says that up to 30% of packaged goods have shrunk in size over the past year.

In a boom economy, they'd just raise the prices. But with consumers sensitive about high gas prices, shrinking the packages is more attractive, at least for now.

Some consumer advocates are crying foul, but I'm not so sure. Go to the grocery store and take a look around: how many people are really going to suffer by eating 1.5 quarts of cookie dough ice cream instead of 1.75? At least in terms of numbers, over-nutrition in the United States is a much more serious problem than people not getting enough food.

Maybe shrinking packages will lead to shrinking waistlines, in which case we should all thank our friends in corporate America.

Originally published