The American food industry thinks we are stupid, inattentive, or complacent

Yogurts cropped
The gradually decreasing size of yogurt containers

After a rather stressful appointment today, I decided to pick up a few things from the grocery store. The main items on my list were granulated sugar and pure almond extract. Both items happen to almost always be in the same aisle, the baking aisle, so I went there first before getting side tracked and buying more than I wanted to. The store had zero pure almond extract. They only had the imitation crap. That pissed me off! I refused to buy that. Then what was worse, when I went to pick up a bag (meaning one, 5-lb bag) of granulated sugar, I almost had a fit. I could tell in a millisecond that they were smaller. All of the bags (all brands) were suddenly 4-lb bags!

Coffee - where is it
Yes, that’s almost a full bag of coffee beans in my 1-lb capacity coffee grinder.

By now, many (though not all) Americans know the wily tactics of the American food industry.  Starting approximately 20 + years ago, some food industries decided it would be better to start reducing the size of their packaging (or reducing the contents in the same packaging) than blatantly increasing their prices to make more of a profit. Coffee cans were among the first items to go from 1-lb of product, down, down, down over the years. I forget whether they first started reducing the contents or reducing the can size, but all brands of coffee followed suit. Now, my 1-lb coffee bean coffee grinder is barely full even after filling it fresh. See the red bag to the left? I just put a new one in my empty 1-lb capacity coffee grinder this morning before making my coffee. It’s now barely 50% full. That’s because the stinkin’ bag only contains 12 oz of coffee beans. For those outside of the U.S., a pound of coffee beans equals 16 oz.

So many products are packaged smaller and smaller. One of the very few exceptions (for now) are gallons and half gallons of milk. But that will likely change someday. Orange juice used to be in half gallons, but you will notice some brands are no longer that big. New styles of packaging help with their efforts to fool customers. Packaging sizes not only decrease, but the prices exceed the once larger sizes. For me, it’s not just the dishonest attempts to fool the customers into paying more, but the extra waste in packaging that angers me. More plastic in the landfills or ocean dump sites? Horrible!

Another gripe I have, as a cooking and baking enthusiast, is that old recipes often call for what were “standard” amounts (package sizes) of ingredients. Now, what was an 8-oz size package of farmer’s cheese (aka quark), or a 6-oz cup of lime yogurt, is less. I have to buy two packages of things when I used to only buy one. Then the second partially used package of product (in order to get a full recipe amount) is unused and sometimes spoils, wasting my money.

I was so angry about the sugar bags that I immediately drove to another store. A bigger store. I was hoping that the bigger store still had some 5-lb bags left. I thought to myself “I’m going to go and buy ten, 5-lb bags and show those suckers! Maybe that sounds a little crazy. I wasn’t altogether mentally stable at the moment.  When I got there, the main name brand “Domino” was already switched to 4-lb bags, but the store brand was still in 5-lb bags. Luckily, the Domino brand was on a good sale because the store surely knew the reduction would piss some people off. I wouldn’t buy the store brand because it’s always hard as a rock. The last time I bought the store brand, I had to break it up with an ice pick. No, I decided to buy those stinkin’ on sale Domino bags. I also noticed some “still remaining” Domino 10-lb bags and even a couple of 25-lb bags. Should I do it?

Domino sugar cropped
Four 4-lb bags and two 10-lb bags of sugar I purchased today. Luckily, I didn’t go too overboard.

A bit of sanity crept into my mind. I realized that it would be hard to properly seal a 25-lb bag of sugar. I did, however, elect to buy some 10-lb bags. There were only two left. I bought both. I also bought four of the new “on sale” 4-lb bags. They won’t be on sale for long, believe me. Pictured below, you can see all of my sugar purchase today. When I got into the cashier line, the woman behind me said “You must really have a major sugar tooth?!?!” I just simply responded “Yes!”

The cashier said nothing, but a woman in the line next to me saw my purchase and said “You must really like to bake!”, and that set me off on a rant against the American food industry. Meanwhile the first woman that commented started laughing. I wasn’t amused. Luckily, I had some majorly strong canvas grocery bags with me. Since I originally planned on buying as many as 10 bags of sugar, I brought about six canvas bags. When I got home, I called my husband to continue the rant. He knows me well, so he just complimented my “activism”, and told me we will have to find a way to vacuum seal these extra bags so that ants don’t get to them. I’m assuming we’ll have to store them in the basement.

Do you have any rant(s) about products you’ve seen decrease in contents?

Do you live outside of the United States? Do food product producers practice these kind of shenanigans? If so, what are some of the ones you’ve noticed?

16 oz = 1 pound (lb), which equals 0.45 kg

8 thoughts on “The American food industry thinks we are stupid, inattentive, or complacent

  1. ashleyleia July 2, 2018 / 9:22 pm

    Same thing in Canada. I don’t know why this stands out in my mind as an example, but Cadbury Creme Eggs are a lot smaller than they were back in the day, plus they’re a lot more expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight July 2, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      Thanks for sharing that, ashleyleia! Are the Cadbury creme eggs made in Canada or the UK? I can understand remembering such a thing, especially since I assume you have a sweet place for them in your memories. I don’t often eat American candy bars anymore. My European hubby prefers the imported chocolate, from places like Switzerland and Germany. From my passing observance, sime American candy bars are made even bigger. Though I remember ones like Snickers being 25¢ 40 years ago, to today’s standard, they don’t seem exceedingly expensive compared to imported ones. Maybe some countries are trying to save their citizen’s teeth, while others are not. I think the Reese’s eggs, which I do enjoy occasionally around Easter, are about the same size as I remember.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ashleyleia July 2, 2018 / 10:08 pm

        The Creme Eggs we get here are made in Canada. Paying more seems like a reasonable thing to expect over time, but like you said things getting smaller just seems sneaky.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight July 3, 2018 / 5:42 am

        I wonder how small the food industry can really make things. There will have to be a limit.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. NaPropasti July 2, 2018 / 9:29 pm

    I get your frustration! What makes me livid is the corporate PR departments’ universal “explanation” of the stealth price hikes as “something the consumer demanded!” They have the chutzpah to basically say millions of customers are calling and writing… demanding less product for the same price.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight July 2, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      Oh my! I never heard that ridiculous explanation. It’s amazing what they come up with!


  3. Suzanne July 3, 2018 / 9:20 pm

    Cereal is one product where I’ve really seen a difference. Not only are the packages tiny compared to the past, they are filled with sugar and corn. I barely ever buy it anymore with all the changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight July 3, 2018 / 9:53 pm

      Thanks for sharing that, Suzanne! I didn’t even know. I rarely eat cereal other than Rice Chex, Cheerios, and puffed kamut. I have noticed that so-called “healthful” cereals are pretty diet unfriendly.

      Liked by 1 person

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