Beware of shrinking everything —?? except prices

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The latest shrinking product really got to me.

A five-pound bag of granulated sugar has now shrunk to four pounds.  Not just the off-brands, but the name brands as well.

Those who do a lot of baking, or jelly and jam making, know that one less pound means we have to buy more sugar to make the same amount of cookies or jam.

By now we’re all accustomed to the nonexistent “pound” of coffee that has shrunk from 16 ounces, to 15, to 12, and now, a mere 10 or 11 ounces. Amazing. A pint’s a pound, the world around — that has to be an antiquated colloquialism now.

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Where’s the pint?

That trusty can of tuna always kept on hand in the pantry will no longer make two decent-sized sandwiches for lunch. The six-ounce cans that have been with us for decades are now five ounces — too much for one sandwich, and not enough for two. I even saw an off-brand tuna the other day that held just 4.5 ounces.

Pasta of all shapes and varieties had, until recently, come in one-pound packages. No longer. Only a few brands or off-brands are 16 ounces. Most are now 12, 11, or even 10 ounces.

A loaf of regular sliced bread has also lost many slices and costs more at the same time.

Watch out for pet food, too.

The once 20- or 25-pound bag of dry dog food has slowly been reduced to 19 pounds, then 18 pounds, and now, with the latest bag of the usual brand I buy for our dog, Dusty, 16 pounds. A bag that once lasted a month or so is now empty in fewer than three weeks.

Baking soda, baking powder, flavorings and virtually any product stored in your cupboard is more than likely smaller than the same product from just a year or two ago — and it costs more.

And it’s not just food that has shrunk. Think about dish detergent, shampoo and cosmetics. Dish detergent has shrunk from the 16-ounce bottle I always bought to its current 12 or 13 ounces. It shrank in steps, just like everything else, but now, of course, I have to buy it more often.

And that’s most likely the reason why nearly everything is so much smaller than it had once been.

We are a consumer society, for better or worse, and for companies to make more money, they have to sell more product. What better way to increase profits than to brighten up the packaging and reduce the amount of what’s inside so you have to buy it more frequently?

What’s next? A 28-ounce quart of milk? The half-gallon juice cartons have already been reduced to 59 ounces or fewer, and a “half-gallon” of most ice creams is only 48 ounces. I won’t be surprised if either of these decreases again really soon. Oh, yes, and a “pint” of ice cream is now 14 ounces much of the time.

Beware shopper: If the price looks like it has remained pretty much the same as it has always been, check the weight of the product. Unless a particular store is having a real sale, we are getting far less for our money.

Always check not only the fat and salt amounts, but also the weight. If dividing in your head isn’t easy, then carry a small calculator with you. Divide the price by the number of ounces or pounds to learn what you are really paying for something. Chances are, the price has gone up. Shopping for our day-to-day needs has become increasingly more complicated.

So when heading out to the supermarket, take that calculator, a deep breath and a lot of patience — and be ready to search to find the best deal for your money.

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