Archive for the 'Consumer Reports – Is It Worth It' Category

Small Product Serving Sizes Are A Joke

Here is an entry for my (overly neglected) blog category called Consumer Reports – Is It Worth It – which features mostly household and grocery product reviews and opinions as well as information on consumer issues.

One of my biggest consumer pet peeves is the ridiculously small serving sizes companies normally use in nutrition information sections. One absurd example I noticed the other day was on a package of frozen onion rings.

The serving size was four (4) onion rings. Do you know anyone who only eats four onion rings during a meal? Have you ever eaten only four onion rings during one sitting?

Of course not and neither does anyone associated with that company. They just use labeling like that so they can proclaim certain calorie counts or certain amounts of fat in a serving. They hope that most people don’t bother to see how much of the product they are claiming amounts to one serving.

Unreasonably and unrealistically small serving size information in the Nutrition Facts / Nutrition Information Per Serving panel on product packaging results in inaccurate nutrition information. In fact, they make the nutrition information a joke by using phony amount per serving measurements that don’t reflect the way Americans consume the products.

I recently noticed one company bucking the trend of the inaccurate serving size. Check the next entry and find out which food manufacturer and which grocery item has realsitic portion sizes in their nutrition information

High Fructose Corn Syrup & Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Do you get as frustrated as I do with food manufacturers pumping everything they make full of hydrogenated oils and corn syrup?

I was debating whether I wanted to write about how aggravated I was at the supermarket the other day. Then I decided that it’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to!

It just drives me crazy that practically everything in the grocery store, no matter what the brand, has partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. I’ve written in the past about high fructose corn syrup in yogurt. At least I was able to find some yogurt brands that don’t include corn syrup.

There are a few items such as commercial egg nog products like egg nog shakes from McDonald’s or Hood flavored egg nog that are going to have high fructose corn syrup and you either take them or leave them. I can live with that. However, this stuff is in almost everything.

Since it is close to Thanksgiving, I was looking for packaged stuffing. I couldn’t find a single kind, either store brand or national name brand that didn’t include both of those undesirable additives.

Later, in the frozen food aisle, I noticed that the store brand of onion rings I had been buying had partially hydrogenated soybean oil. I read labels fully, but somehow I had missed that one.

Perhaps it’s because I think onion rings should consist of onions, bread crumbs, flour, and egg whites, just like you would make them at home. I understand the necessity of preservatives in our food supply, but maybe onion rings aren’t meant to last forever.

When I am grocery shopping and reading labels, I always ask myself if I would use the same ingredients that the manufacturers are using if I was making the item myself from scratch. I have never reached for an overflowing cup of high fructose corn syrup. Have you?

Similarly, I never dump partially hydrogenated soybean oil or partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil into my bowl of cookie dough. (By the way, what the hell is partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil? Yes, I know I could go look it up, but that’s kind of the point of asking the question – we shouldn’t have to look up the definition of an ingredient in our food!)

End of rant. I hope you have better luck trying to avoid items with high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils in your grocery items.

Dollar Store Dilemma

Maintaining Dollar Store Profits & Margins

As I have pointed out a number of times, consumers have to be aware of the latest method that manufacturers are using to either increase or maintain profit margins in an economy with the cost of the raw materials are increasing.

Consumers complain or buy less when they see prices rise. Therefore, nobody in the retail chain from manufacturers to store owners wants to see the final price go up. Still, with increase int the price of raw materials as well as inflation, how do those retailers and product creators keep their profits intact?

One way is to simply make packages smaller, reducing the amount of content in them.

This is a particularly interesting area to look at for those who shop at discount stores known as dollar stores or 99 cent only stores.

If the name and entire retail concept of your store is that everything costs only a dollar, then you can’t raise prices to earn more money and generate more profit. Your only choice then is to shrink the products.

I have noticed that happening continually in dollar stores over the last few years. I’m worried that the standard size of items in dollar stores is about to become what we used to consider travel sizes!

Just as an example, I’ve watched the size of household disinfectant sprays come down incrementally from 12 ounces to the current 8 ounces. That is a 33% decrease in size while the consumer continues to pay the same retail price.

What products have you noticed displaying this trend?

Bird Seed Prices

Price Of Bird Seed

I’ve written before about the disturbing trend in the consumer arena of prices going up while sizes of containers keep going down. (See the entries on the smaller ice cream containers and the tricky ice cream advertising.)

Since that time, I’ve noticed that this unfortunate trend has been continuing, sometimes in the most unlikely of places. The other day, I went to a home improvement store and actually noticed this occurring with the packages of bird seed!

A particular brand was available in 20 pound and 40 pound packages. The price stickers on the shelf indicated this. As you would expect, the larger package of the bird seed cost more than the smaller package, but it was cheaper per unit price when you figured out the cost per pound.

Then I looked more closely at the larger, supposedly 40 pound package…and noticed that the bird seed manufacturer had reduced the size of the package down to only 35 pounds. That meant that the price sticker on the shelf was no longer accurate. The item number had also changed.

I went to the service desk and had them scan the item. It turned out that the price of the new 35 pound bird seed bag was the same as the old 40 pound size. So – same price for smaller package = less contents for the same cost. Where have we heard that before?