Shrink Ray’s Latest Target: Peanut Butter

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From time to time, packages at the grocery store mysteriously shrink, yet prices usually don't. Which ones have you noticed lately?

Less is more? Not at the grocery store.

Eagle eyes over at MousePrint.org noticed new, smaller jars of Jif peanut butter are hitting shelves now. You might not spot the difference because the jars are about the same height as they were before. But if you measure, as the site did, you’ll discover the new jar “had its waistline trimmed by one-half an inch,” MousePrint.org says.

Many companies shrink their products over time as costs increase, but Jif is an interesting case for two reasons.

The first is that the brand was a holdout from the shrink ray and proudly touted it on the label for a long time. About five years ago, Skippy and then Peter Pan shrunk their jars, while Jif slapped on a prominent label that said, “We’re still 18 oz.,” according to MousePrint.org, which provided photographic evidence. (Consumerist also noticed the label change in 2009.)

The second reason it’s interesting is that the brand was open about the change, going so far as to post an explanation and advance notice on Facebook in May:

We value you as some of our most loyal consumers and want to let you know ahead of time that we are switching our 18 oz. jars to a 16 oz. jar starting June 1. As a result, we have decreased the suggested retail price so the cost per ounce stays the same as it was prior to the change. There will be absolutely no change to the Jif peanut butter formula you love so much. The change is being made to align with consumer and retailer feedback.

While it’s not clear which consumers complained that those jars were just too chock-full of peanut butter, at least the company had the guts to admit the change was coming and adjust the price. It seems more common for companies to tweak the look of the packaging and quietly shrink the contents without shrinking the price, passing on higher costs to consumers.

What do you think of Jif’s move, and what else have you seen shrinking at the grocery store lately? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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