Food manufacturers shrink product containers instead of raising prices
LONDON If your jar of Skippy seemed to dissipate a bit faster than usual and your weekly peanut butter sandwich intake hasn’t faced any major increases, you’re not crazy. Skippy, as well as various other food product manufacturers, has cut back its container size and weight while still maintaining the original look of the packaging.
The bottoms of Skippy jars now contain an inconspicuous dimple that accounts for a 10 percent decrease in peanut butter, and many shopper are feeling deceived into believing they are purchasing the same amount of peanut butter for the same price as the old. The jar, once 18 ounces and now 16.3, is the result of what Skippy and other manufacturers are saying is the only solution to the rising food and gas prices.
Unilever, which produces Skippy, also manufactures Breyers ice cream and has similarly cut back on the amount of its product per package. What used to be a container 1.75 quarts full of ice cream has now been reduced to 1.5, and competitor Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream did the same. Ice cream makers had been facing skyrocketing costs in milk, cocoa, sweeteners and energy. “We looked at raising prices to cover these costs, but at some point it just doesn’t make sense to raise prices too high … The ongoing feedback from our customers it that they aren’t ready to pay $7 or more for a carton of ice cream.
Though this change in weight is stated on the product, it oftentimes goes unnoticed because the packaging looks the same and shoppers don’t realize anything is different about the product. Manufacturers are making very subtle changes, thus creating “the illusion that you are buying the same amount,” explained Frank Luby, a pricing consultant with Simon-Kucher & Partners of Cambridge, Mass. Kellogg Co. has cut back on the weight of its Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops and Honey Smacks. Dial has eliminated .5 ounces of its soap but maintained the package’s size to appear the same as its old product. Quilted Northern has cut half an inch off the width of its Ultra Plush toilet paper, and a Hershey’s chocolate bar is now 6.8 ounces from 8 ounces.
HEB opens first ‘green’ store in Houston market
HOUSTON Grocery chain HEB has announced the opening of a new “green” store in the Houston area.
Ground was broken at the HEB Bunker Hill stores at Interstate 10 and Bunker Hill, in the Houston market, on Friday. The company has said that this new location is HEB’s first LEED-certified storefront in the area. The building was crafted using recycled materials and all appliances and hardware installed meet strict energy efficiency standards. Items such as LED light bulbs were used in place of traditional bulbs in places like food freezers. The freezers are also set with devices that trigger the light bulbs only when a customer opens the door.
HEB said that the store was also designed to use 25 percent the amount of water used to run the average HEB store.
Nestle Waters doing the best it can to be environmentally responsible
GREENWICH, Conn. Nestle Waters North America is addressing criticism directed toward its packaging, which some say is environmentally wasteful. The company, which produces major bottled water brand Poland Spring, says it has been taking steps to ensure environmental friendliness; it just had never considered it necessary to speak up about its efforts.
Nestle Waters chief executive officer Kim Jeffery remembers when he first heard about Wal-Mart’s environmental initiatives and says he realized he could think of 10 similar things his company had done; it’s just that no one knew about them. For one, Nestle Waters had built LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) factories, as well as worked with vendors to reduce the amount of plastic in its Poland Spring, Deer Park and other spring water brand bottles. It had also worked toward building awareness and new solutions to increase recycling.
In 2007, the company eliminated 15 percent of their bottles’ weight, sparing 65 million pounds of plastic resin and decreasing energy production costs by 10 percent. Jeffery says he has become an “outspoken advocate of comprehensive recycling initiatives,” despite the fact that once the bottles is in the hands of consumers, his ability to get them to a recycling center is limited. Nestle Waters is currently working with the American Beverage Association to establish a model recycling program in Hartford, Conn. to raise recycling rates in the area. If successful, the plan will be expanded to other cities.
The company hopes to reduce its plastic bottles by another 15 percent by 2010, though it believes this last 15 percent is the furthest it can go in reducing weight and plastic resin in its bottles. It also plans on continuing its efforts to cut its transportation, production and water use. “Being environmentally responsible is part of our DNA and has been in the 30 years that I’ve been with the company,” Jeffery said.
“Obviously, protecting the source of our product is important to us. We wouldn’t have a long-term business otherwise.”