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Old 01-08-2010, 02:57 AM   #1
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Rant: Yet Another Food Company Ripoff

It's a well known and oft-discussed fact that more and more the food companies are ripping off unwary consumers by putting less product in the same size package and charging the same price. But it used to be that "flagship" brands and products were still the same, albeit there's not as much in each package. Sadly, now I see the quality is also taking a beating.

After a couple days of being basically snowed in, things were cleared enough
today to make a trip to the grocery store. Even though I've spent most of my life working as a chef, I'm not a complete food snob; I still like many of the comfort foods of my youth. One such favorite is tuna & noodles, which my Mom usually made with shells. It's basically pasta shells, canned cream of mushroom soup, onions (sometimes peas) and canned tuna. Normally when I buy processed tuna I get the foil packages, which are far superior to canned, but the closest market to me just has cans. Jonesing for some comfort food I bought a couple cans of Chicken of the Sea, which used to be a good product for what it is...well, it's not any longer. It's just pulverized tuna dust floating in a can of water! Seriously, in two cans combined there weren't 5 chunks large enough to identify as having come from a fish. This isn't a total fluke, either. A couple months ago I bought the same brand from a different store to make tuna sandwiches and I noticed the same thing. Obviously there's variation in an agricultural/animal product but having eaten a lot of canned tuna over the years I've never seen crap like this before, even in the cheapest store brands.

And can anyone refresh my memory, didn't a can of tuna used to be six or seven ounces? Now they're five ounces (about 4oz drained). The pouches have gotten a little bit smaller, too, but at least with them there's very little added water or waste, and you can instantly determine how much is in the package.

I don't know about you but I'd much rather pay a little more to get a decent product. I understand the need to make a profit but I'm tired of purchasing crap. While I'm ranting, have you noticed that even the more expensive frozen produce brands like Bird's Eye have gone to nearly all fully-printed packaging, probably to disguise the fact that the product is sub-par? Last time I bought frozen
Bird's Eye broccoli florettes the bag was mostly stems. In my area Sam's Club is about the only place to buy decent quality frozen veggies anymore.

I wonder how much further the Big Food Companies can push consumers til we finally decide not to take it anymore?



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Old 01-08-2010, 05:42 AM   #2
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Unfortunatly this seems to have become a new trend. I was going to buy a box of brand name cereal at $2 a box thinking it was a bargain until I realized it was only 12 oz instead of 16oz. I am pretty thrify and tend to stay away from name brands unless it's a super bargain. The tuna in cans, which I use pretty frequently, has gone downhill over the years. What used to be a nice compact fully formed chunk is now sort of floaty pieces in water. I'm too cheap to buy the packaged over canned because Winco has bumblebee tuna at about $2 a big can all the time and the sealed bags at almost $4 which is probably a scam in itself. I'm just too tired to figure out why.
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:52 AM   #3
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Last time I checked, Bumble Bee and Progresso solid white were still pretty good (except for the reduced can size).
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:30 AM   #4
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I used to see Bumblebee on the shelves all the time but I haven't seen for a few years now.
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:42 AM   #5
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Conagra acquired Bumblebee along with a bunch of other brands several years ago. Then Conagra shafted its shareholders by selling the Bumblebee franchise to Bumblebee's management at a lowball price.
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:47 AM   #6
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Check out the bottom of the Yoplait containers. They're at least an inch above the outside edge of the side at the widest part... a waste of 30% of the packaging material and an optical illusion as to how much yogurt you are actually getting... Clearly a rip-off!!!
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:33 AM   #7
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I've noticed some products with the changes mentioned. One that really gets me is prepared greens that have so many stems that by the time you remove them there is enough left for one decent sized salad. Some varieties I've stopped purchasing. BTW, I use Bumble Bee tuna and believe it to be a good product.
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:03 AM   #8
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The "downsizing" trend has been going on for 2-3 years - they have even had reports about it on the evening news. I first noticed it with coffee, then cereal, tuna got downsized over a year ago. The "logic" was that instead of raising prices due to increased production costs they would just decrease the package amount so it wouldn't cost the consumer more. Huh?
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:12 AM   #9
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Chef Rob,
The food companies have been making this the trend in recent years about lowering the amount of product they offer in a container.Your point about the packged Tuna is right on the money. The quality has dropped along with the weight.
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:42 AM   #10
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I have been hearing about this for many years now. Coffee and cereal were the two things that every few years I seemed to hear were lowering the amounts they were putting in the package while keeping the prices the same or sometimes even raising them.
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:45 AM   #11
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Downsizing has been going on for more than a few years. As Rob said, tuna cans used to be around 7 ounces. That was decades ago. They dropped to 6.5 then 6.0 over the years. Now they're at 5 ounces.

What really frosts me is that the companies will tell you the size reduction is in response to consumer demands. What?? They get consumers demanding less product for the same money?!

Coffee has been downsizing for a long time too. You used to be able to get 1, 2 & 3 pound cans of coffee. Now the cans are reduced so the 1 pounder is now 12 ounces.

Beware of recipes that call for a can, box or bottle of any ingredient. That container now probably contains a lot less and could ruin your recipes.
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:59 PM   #12
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I've wondered about the liquid laundry detergents that are 2X or 3X if they really are twice as strong or three times as strong. Having arthritis, I like having the smaller container but hope I get what I'm paying for.
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:10 PM   #13
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starkist tuna in the foil, they're ounces less than they were, dannon yogurt went from 8-oz. to 6-oz. several yrs. ago. candybars, woah!
i got a condensed soup last nite for $4+! for tripe soup that, if the shelves were properly stocked i could've cooked myself for much less than that.
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:26 PM   #14
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"Yeah" to everything above. Plus what happened to the "half-gallon" of ice cream? Oh, it's 1 1/2 quarts now. Same price, pretty much. At least the newer size fits in my freezer more easily. I try to cook from-scratch most of the time. We have a year-round farm stand not too far from here. I used to make salads from scratch since he would charge only 99 cents for head, romaine and leaf lettuces. Price went up to match real-world prices a month or two ago. Now I'll pick up the 3# bag-o-salad from BJs when I'm there. My hubby actually likes the stems of the lettuces (you can send yours our way, licia!) so I throw them all in his bowl.
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Old 01-09-2010, 04:29 AM   #15
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It's really annoying, that's for sure. And it does throw your recipe off if you've been used to using a can of this, a jar of that, etc. For the most part I cook almost everything from scratch at home, but I do have a few "go-to" comfort food recipes that I rely on packaged stuff (eg. hamburger tater tot hot dish, tuna & shells). I guess if the price is going up while quality is going thru the cellar I'll just start making them from scratch, too.
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