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Playing With Pricing

I’m sick of it!

I remember seeing this garbage with candy bars for years – the price stays the same, but the size of the candy bar varies. Then I noticed it in cat food. The price of the largest bag of kibble stayed the same, but the weight went from 20 pounds to 18 pounds, and is now at 16 pounds during the last six months.

Yesterday I saw it with soft drinks – the 24-can box now only contains 20 cans but the price remains the same.

I guess if you sell to WalMart et al. you want to maintain the so-called “low price”.


1 hipparchia { 03.19.10 at 12:41 am }

i’ve noticed that too about the catfood. at least the amount of cat litter in the el cheapo brand stays the same and the price goes up. i have to admit that a decrease in the production of catfood-byproducts would be nice. now if i could just convince my useless eaters of the value of this decrease….

2 Kryten42 { 03.19.10 at 10:27 am }

Curiously, one of the worst offenders are toilet paper! I remember years ago you got 300 sheets per rool, then it was 290, 280… until now it’s 160! And you’ll notice that they don’t wind the roll anywhere near as tightly as they used to (so it looks bigger and feels soft). That’s truly crooked IMHO.

Potato crisps is another one. Every time I look at a bag, it seems to have dropped 5g! (and the smaller bags are a TOTAL ripoff! Now that they finally have to put comparison pricing (like price per 100g, or per kg, or per {quantity}) one can easily see it. A 175g bag was $1.99 (on special) and the 40g bag was 99c (on special), which makes the 40g bag about $2.48/100g and the 175g bag about 88c/100g! You’d have to be a moron to but the small bags (another trick is to sell the smaller bags at 3 for $2! and people think that’s a great deal.) 😆

Pretty much all the supermarket chains and most product manufacturers are crooks.

It’s no wonder the wealthy are trying to ensure the serf’s are uneducated.

3 John B. { 03.19.10 at 10:50 am }


I’d like to refer you, please, to the late Stephen Jay Gould’s wonderful essay, “Phyletic Size Decrease in Hershey Bars.” A smaller portion of this delicious essay, unwrapped from the large, posthumous Family Size book titled “The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould,” is available on Google Books.

It originally appeared in his sorely-missed monthly column in Natural History magazine and was collected in one of the several books that periodically assembled those essays between hard covers. I have it around the house, somewhere, along with all the other Gould books I could collect over the years.

If there is only one writer whose provocative essays and engaging prose should be preserved for eternity, I nominate Gould.

4 Bryan { 03.19.10 at 10:52 pm }

Actually, John, Hersey’s size changes were mandated by the founder’s original requirement that they sell a 5¢ chocolate bar. It started out very large indeed, when it was first sold. When that was no longer possible, they moved to a dime bar, then a quarter bar. That said, Stephen Jay Gould was always worth reading.

When’s the last time you wormed them, Hipparchia. Food consumption drops off markedly when they aren’t feeding worms. I wish I could do it with the ferals, as it would really improve their general health. And it would also decrease the amount of cat litter required.

I hadn’t thought of that one, Kryten, but you’re right. My Mother buys paper products in bulk, and she was increasing her purchases despite having switched to so-called “mega-rolls” that required an adapter for the TP holder.

5 hipparchia { 03.20.10 at 2:14 am }

yep. we’re going to have to do worm medicine again, but it’s more the ratio of cat/real estate, especially now that they’re cats and not cute and tiny little balls of fluff.

the toilet paper has been way noticeable. it’s so fluffy already that even the cats have stopped paying attention to it recently. one good swipe and there’s nothing left to rip and shred. fortunately [for teh kittehs, not for me] paper towels are still rolled [reasonably] tightly and are still fun to shred [if i forget to hide the roll when i’m done cleaning].
.-= last blog ..Run, ntodd, run! =-.

6 Bryan { 03.20.10 at 10:15 am }

See, I cheat and put the rolls in to feed from the rear, so it just spins when they attack, but the claws go through about a third of a new roll, making it functionally worthless for its real mission.

7 hipparchia { 03.20.10 at 1:40 pm }

mine is attached to the side of the cabinet, so they just stand on the bathroom counter and shred away at their ‘renewable scratching post’ from the top. if it unrolls too, that’s just gravy.
.-= last blog ..Run, ntodd, run! =-.

8 Kryten42 { 03.20.10 at 9:36 pm }

Ehhh… You guys… *sigh*

You need one of these. We have one. Cat proof! 😉 And low maintenance. 😆

Toilet roll holder/ magazine

Any other problems you need help with? I have reasonable rates. 😆 😛

9 Bryan { 03.20.10 at 11:34 pm }

You obviously have a much bigger bath room than mine based on 2.54 cm = 1 inch. There is no room to mount anything that large that would be within reach of the toilet.

10 hipparchia { 03.20.10 at 11:48 pm }

yeah, i was thinking palatial myself. i haven’t got that kind of room either!
.-= last blog ..Run, ntodd, run! =-.

11 Kryten42 { 03.21.10 at 10:58 am }

😐 Ummm… We had one in a tiny 2-bedroom unit. Wasn’t even 12 sq! You must live in a shed! Or, Americans design cupboard size toilets. Come to think of it… I stayed in a few that did, so never-mind. Most homes here have the toilet and bathroom separate usually. Up until about 50 or 60 years ago, many toilets were outside (especially if you lived on the edge of suburbia where there wasn’t any sewerage yet, and you had a septic tank). 😉

So… you must bang your elbows in the shower a lot then? Never-mind… I don’t want to know! 😛 😆

12 Badtux { 03.21.10 at 12:57 pm }

What irks me: five ounce cans of tuna. Puh-LEEZE. Cans of tuna when my recipes were written down were seven ounces. Then they shrunk to six ounces. Then Wal-mart shrunk their cans down to five ounces to sell for less than everybody else who was selling the six ounce cans, and then my favorite grocery stores one by one shrank their cans to five ounces to match. Now I have to buy tuna in big 20-pack bundles at Costco to get the real seven ounce cans of tuna. I swear, for a fish lovin’ penguin the tuna situation has gotten just plain out of hand.

Too bad you guys don’t have Costco in your parts, they have real big bags of cat food for not much more than Walmart charges for the shrunken ones, not that I would feed my boys that junk (they’re eating the Science Diet for cats with digestive problems, due to Mencken’s sour stomach) but then I feed just two cats, not twenty.

13 Bryan { 03.21.10 at 8:27 pm }

Sam’s Club is as close as we come down here, which is a pain when you have seen a Costco. Of course, none dare call it fraud because the change is reflected by a notice in the small print.

The same thing with ice cream, the half gallons are now one and a half quarts. You have to read labels to figure out how you are being screwed, and, as you say, it screws up recipes and party planning.

14 hipparchia { 03.22.10 at 8:26 am }

Never-mind… I don’t want to know!

oh, but i have some great stories… 😉
.-= last blog ..Run, ntodd, run! =-.

15 Bryan { 03.22.10 at 4:39 pm }

Badtux, I checked today: 4.5 ounces for Starkist in the supermarket – the lowlifes.

16 Badtux { 03.22.10 at 8:37 pm }

Siiiigh. The bastards! Well, at least you could use two of those 4.5 ounce cans to make up a recipe for one of the old 7 ounce cans, it’d just be extra tuna-ey. Still… grrrrr!

– Badtux the Fish-eatin’ Penguin
.-= last blog ..Obedience to authority =-.

17 Kryten42 { 03.23.10 at 7:27 am }

It’s the same here. We have a chain of Grocery clearance stores that started a while back and are spreading all over called Not Quite Right (NQR) they get products that the supermarkets can’t sell, damaged or mislabeled packaging for eg 9and sometimes close to the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date (but still OK if you don’t plan to store the item but use it), or end of clearance leftovers… etc. Most stuff is around 50% off RRP, and they label everything clearly, especially if close to EOL dates. 🙂 they also so fresh produce at reduced prices, but nowhere near the *unwanted goods* prices. 🙂

We are lucky where I moved to here, we are not far away from a big cannery that have direct-to-public sales at very cheap prices, but you have to buy bulk. Which is fine as most products are tinned. The catch is that most tins are unlabeled, but the boxes are labeled. No biggie…

SPC-Ardmona Factory Sales

Sadly, what was once a very proud 100% Aussie company (SPC stands for Shepparton Preserving Company which began in 1917) is now owned by Coca-Cola Amatil. *sigh* So, we expect SPC to become like all the other CCA owned companies. Still, for now, they still sell factory direct and cheap (and thus far, the quality hasn’t changed). 🙂

We went there last weekend, and I saw that the sizes of some can’s was… wierd. We got a box of canned fruit-salad in natural juice. At teh supermarket, the size was 825g (and $3.50 – $3.80), but at teh factory, the cans were 790g @ $18 for a case of 12 ($1.50 ea). Still a good price, but we noticed that size can for a lot of products, that’s a 35g drop! Another was 140g, down from 175g, 390g was 430g. I guess they haven’t reached the stores yet. Listen for the screams when they do, I bet the prices won’t go down to match! Thanks Coca Cola!!

So yeah… the sizes of everything is shrinking, and prices are rising, and the producers get paid less, and the wholesalers get multi-million $ bonuses for doing 4/5’s of f*ck all!! What a great and equitable system.

18 Kryten42 { 03.23.10 at 7:36 am }

Oh… They do Penguin/Cat food too! 😉 😀

Sirena Tuna Varieties 95g x 12 $10.00
John West Tuna Sliced in spring water or oil 185g x 12 $19.90
John West Tempters Sardines 95g x 12 $10.00
John West Medium Red Salmon 210g x 24 $55.00
Greenseas Red Alaskan Salmon 390g Each $5.50

Will be fun doing the price & qty conversion to compare. 😉 😆

19 hipparchia { 03.23.10 at 7:55 pm }

tuna? you people can afford to buy canned tuna?
.-= last blog ..Run, ntodd, run! =-.

20 Badtux { 03.23.10 at 10:46 pm }

A can of tuna, a cup of ramen noodles, a vitamin pill, and a calcium pill… it’s a balanced meal, Hipparchia ;). Total cost — somewhere around $1.75. You can eat for less, but only if you’re demented and willing to eat beans and rice for multiple days straight.
.-= last blog ..How to End the Great Recession =-.

21 hipparchia { 03.23.10 at 10:51 pm }

i’m originally from south texas, refried beans are still one of my favorite comfort foods.
.-= last blog ..Run, ntodd, run! =-.

22 Bryan { 03.23.10 at 11:32 pm }

I’ve got the spreadsheet ready and will generate the numbers later, Kryten, but the can sizes seem similar.

Hipparchia, we are talking about pricing, not buying. There was a time when it was viable to give the feral cats pink salmon or mackerel in their rice mixture, but no more.

Let’s hear it for frijoles refritos and rice and beans. Add some meat or fish and a corn or wheat tortilla and that’s a meal. If I was a millionaire I would have a supply of El Indio [San Diego] burritos combinacion flown in every week. The food of the gods [well, programmers, anyway].

I would be tempted to import the local rindswurst, brochen, and mustard from Frankfurt, but TSA would probably eat them.

Now, I’m hungry.

23 hipparchia { 03.23.10 at 11:46 pm }

i know you were talking about pricing, but i got priced out of the canned tuna [and salmon and mackerel] market well before the can sizes started plummeting. i can vaguely remember the 7oz can going to 6.5 oz, or possibly it was the 6.5 oz going to 6oz. i could still get canned mackerel fairly cheap a few years ago when the invader kittehz were still tiny balls of fluff, but not since then.

and yes, the 20lb sacks of catfood are now 16 or 16.5 lb sacks. i’ve got a [non-walmart] source of dry catfood where i can frequently buy the 14lb sacks and 8lb sacks for about the same $/lb as the previously 20lb sacks, so i’ve only been dimly aware of the changes in the larger sizes.

the toilet paper issue, though, that’s been a sore point. even the cats have been unhappy with that one.

oh and ice cream. i used to be really ticked about the size change in ice cream, but that’s another one i’ve been priced out of for a few years now, since just about the time a full gallon went to almost-a-gallon.
.-= last blog ..Run, ntodd, run! =-.

24 Badtux { 03.24.10 at 12:11 am }

I’ve been eating a fair amount of refried beans on top of home-made corn tortillas lately. Sprinkle with cheese, toss in the toaster oven, instant tostada. Add some lettuce and salsa on top and you have a nice little meal.

Thing is, I’m not going to eat that for *every* meal… and there’s some times where I don’t even feel like doing the minimal work for my home-made corn tortillas (which are ludicrously simple — 1/2 cup masa, 1/3 cup water, make four balls, press between pieces of wax paper in the tortilla press, toss onto very hot cast iron griddle for 30 seconds per side, flip out into tortilla warmer). Plus I don’t have a griddle at work ;). Thus the tuna and ramen… for me, not for the kittehs. The kittehs eat kibble and are grateful for it.

– Badtux the Culinary Penguin

25 Bryan { 03.24.10 at 7:55 pm }

Everyone is getting priced out of the food market, and the retailers are just hiding the reality. Telling me I’m saving money with my supermarket card when in fact the special sale price is the old price for a smaller can.

The price of rice lept up and has never gone down, so that was a major impact on my food budget. Once they get the price up, they don’t lower it to consumers. They only thing that drops is the price paid to farmers.