Shrinking food sizes leave shoppers at disadvantage
By Andrea DeMeer, QMI Agency
Last Updated: April 16, 2012 9:08am
From time to time it is necessary for government to take steps to protect consumers from their own gullibility.
Witness provinces moving to enact laws forcing wireless service providers to simplify billing plans and be more upfront about costs.
Verily, one should not have to possess a business degree and above-average psychic intelligence to decipher a data usage contract.
There is another industry that needs to be brought to heel when it comes to pricing and transparency that is more essential to everyday life than smartphones.
We're talking about food.
Rising food prices--driven largely by increased energy and transportation costs --are no longer news.
According to Statistics Canada, the price of a loaf of bread increased almost 10% in the last year. The cost of vegetables and meat jumped 8.3% and 6.5%, respectively. At the same time, grocery store sales were flat.
In an attempt to bolster the bottom line, many food packagers have significantly reduced product size without adjusting price.
The cheese bar shriveled from 900 grams to 600. Last month there were 16 sausages in the package, today there are 12. There aren't as many chicken wings in the box, and if you look closely it appears someone sat on the can of coffee.
Naturally, both food processors and grocery retailers hope no one is paying that much attention. Food advertisements have become increasingly misleading. A budget-conscious soccer mom drives halfway across the city because butter is on sale for $1.99, only to discover butter is now being marketed by the half-pound.
Packaging is a significant contributor to food price. If these less-is-more strategies allow companies to maintain their gross sales, input costs necessarily increase. The result? Food gets even more expensive.
Canadians deserve a you-get-what-you-think-you-pay-for law when it comes to food.
Manufacturers should be required to clearly state "new size" on packaging when portion size is reduced and weight and volume require legislated prominence in food ads.
Size is not everything. But when it comes to food, size and price are the only things.
Consumers deserve as much help as possible to make the best choices.http://www.lfpress.com/comment/editoria ... 37031.html