Consumer Watch: Shrinking products

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Used to getting a pint when you buy ice cream? You may have to reduce your expectations: many are now just 14 ounces. (KFSN)

Used to getting a pint when you buy ice cream? You may have to reduce your expectations: many are now just 14 ounces.

Hood ice-cream sandwiches used to be packed 12 in a box. Now you get 10 for the same price.

Companies often blame the rising cost of labor and ingredients for that kind of downsizing. But Consumer Reports says that it's a way for them to raise prices, too, without being noticed.

Take juice, for example.Expecting to find a half-gallon in juice containers? Some store brands still contain the traditional 64 ounces, but many of the big brands are now only 59 ounces.

And although peanut butter jars may look like the same size, they can range from 18 ounces down to 16-a difference of about two servings.

Even laundry detergents have shrunk. Liquid All is 50 ounces, while a look-alike bottle of All Free Clear is only 46 and a half ounces, which means two fewer loads.

Buy Ivory soap in a 10-pack and you get 4-ounce bars. Pick up a 3-pack and they weigh only 3.1 ounces.

Consumer Reports says the problem comes down to one of perception. For years, many products came in clearly recognizable sizes--a pound of coffee, a quart of mayonnaise. Today that's not true. So you need to scour the label to see how much of the product you're actually getting. The best thing you can do is to read the fine print on the packaging. And pay attention to unit-price labels on most store shelves
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