Incredible Shrinking Ice Cream Containers

Am I the only who has noticed the incredible shrinking ice cream containers over the past few years?

In my previous entry, I write about the way dollar stores are preserving their profit margins without raising prices – by selling items that are smaller or with less volume.

This phenomenon is not restricted to dollar stores. You can find it happening at your local traditional supermarket too.

I first noticed the problem with ice cream cartons a few years back when the country had some uproar with milk prices shooting through the roof all of a sudden. Since milk is a major component of ice cream, ice cream prices were affected too.

Some clever ice cream manufacturers decided they could fool consumers by holding retail prices and making the ice cream containers smaller! Ice cream was always sold as a half-gallon. In fact, chains like Friendly’s and Newport Creamery used to call their frequent buyer reward programs some variation of “half-gallon clubs.”

After this milk price crisis thing a few years ago, the size of the containers suddenly got smaller by one 1/8. They went from being a half gallon (which is equal to 2 quarts or 8 pints) down to 1.75 quarts or 7 pints.) That is a 12.5 % reduction in size.

Like every industry, it didn’t take long for all the producers to follow suit. Within a relatively small time frame, a century of tradition in the half-gallon ice cream carton was gone and suddenly 1.75 quarts was the standard.

Welcome to the world of paying the same (or worse, more) and getting less.

That might not seem like a big deal. In fact, it may even be a boon to your diet if you only buy a certain number of ice cream cartons (say one every two weeks) and you don’t increase the number of cartons to make up for the smaller size.

Where does it stop, though? I haven’t bought ice cream in several months and I decided to get some the other day. I picked up a carton in the freezer section and something just didn’t seem right about it. It took me a minute to figure it out. I just thought it seemed too small. At first, I thought it was my imagination, but it wasn’t. Guess, what, the ice cream industry is at it again!

The new ice cream container size is 1.5 quarts (6 pints). I started to check other brands. About half of them had switched to the new smaller size. Now, consumers are getting 25% less ice cream per carton than they were getting just a few years ago! What’s next?

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