Cold Shrunken Pringles!

Pringles Shriking, shorter every day

Pringles Shriking, shorter every day

It must be the cold “what done it”… It couldn’t be stealth inflation from lax monetary standards… nor could it be food inflation from cold weather… nor due to fuel price hikes… yes, the only thing that could make them shrink like that would be the cold… and lord knows it’s been cold lately. But honestly, I didn’t think it was cold enough to shrink my Pringles or I’d have stayed by the heater!
8-)

So from 6.31 to 4.93 ounces. ( Or 182 gm to 140 gm for the “traditionally challenged” ;-) There is your first clue. Very strange non-round units. Why not 7 ounces or 8? (1/2 pound) Perhaps as the first shrinkage was TO 6.31 in some prior year, long gone… I *think* I remember a larger round ounce size at one time… At any rate, the big one is 28% larger than the small one ( 1.279919 ratio) or the little one is 78% of the big one ( 0.7813 ratio) for a 22% shave.

It is very unusual for a manufacturer to hold two sizes in their product line that are about 1/5 to 1/4 apart in size. You can find a Quart and a 12 Ounce sized in things like sodas, so it is always possible that these will both be ‘in the line up’; but I’m going to be watching the local store.

The little one was purchased at Walmart. A week ago they were larger. The large one I picked up just afterwards at the local “expensive and slow turnover” store. If in a week or two they are all small, well, then I’ll know…

Close up on size detail:

Pringles Closeup on size data

Pringles Closeup on size data

One or two of these can be an Evil Monopolist playing stupid games. Now we’re into this ‘a few’ and spread over several types of product. That’s inflation at work (official statistics or no…)

Pringles are a product of Procter and Gamble. A company with a chart that is underperforming the S&P 500 and is presently in a downtrend. Though I note RSI is ‘near 20’; so it will either be a persistent downtrend or we have an “entry” soon. I’d vote for persistent downtrend given how they are treating the customer with stealth price hikes. It ought to be something you can ‘range trade’ as it’s basically “dead money” but will wander back and forth within a range while paying a 3% proximity dividend. Will likely track inflation in product sales too, one way or another …

PG Procter and Gamble vs S&P 500

PG Procter and Gamble vs S&P 500

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Human Interest, World Economics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Cold Shrunken Pringles!

  1. boballab says:

    EM:

    I haven’t paid much attention since moving on from being a Food Department Manager with Wal-mart a couple years ago, but I think you got a Promotional sized can mixed up with the regular sized one.

    If you look at your close up picture, the one on the left has “Super Stack” printed on it. If you go to the Pringles homepage you will find they are running a Promotion titled:

    Super Stack
    100 crisps in every can!*

    http://www.pringles.com/en_US/Pages/Home.aspx

    Next time I’m in Walmart I’ll take a look to see if the regular cans have really shrunk (Remember I was a Food Department Manager and stocked the damm things for over 7 years) or not.

  2. boballab says:

    EM:

    Found this for ya while looking around: Just a couple years ago the regular sized cans had weights of 5.125 oz and they had their “Super Stacks” run at 5.71 oz
    http://consumerist.com/2009/03/this-pringles-super-stack-size-traps-the-math-illiterate.html

    So yes the cans shrunk just in one case from 5.125oz to 4.93oz for regular cans but actually got bigger in the “Super Stacks” going from 5.71oz to 6.41oz

  3. H.R. says:

    Better buy two cans of the Super Stack.

    I have a killer recipe for 7-Layer Buffalo-Ranch Allosaurus dip. It’s great if you’re throwing a large party ;o)

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, so we have ‘size games’ being played, but they are even more sneaky ones than I had suspected… Boy, that’s comforting to know ;-)

    FWIW, somehow without knowing it, I’ve only ever gotten the “big” cans for the last few years, even though I just walk in and grab them… the surprise was the ‘little’ can that was in a large isolated display next to the cart main isle from near electronics headed toward ‘food’. (Having snagged two off that display, I didn’t visit the “crisps” section for more or to discover if they were different sized).

    At any rate, the “Gimick” is becoming pretty clear. Put dinkier ones away from the food section. Have a familiar looking price…

  5. wolfwalker says:

    Very interesting, Chiefio.

    “It is very unusual for a manufacturer to hold two sizes in their product line that are about 1/5 to 1/4 apart in size.”

    Well … unless they see a market for both. Coca-Cola sells several flavors of Coke in 20-oz and 16-oz bottles, and probably sells quite a lot of the smaller size by pricing it at 99 cents when the 20-oz is up to $1.59. Gatorade sells 20-oz and 24-oz bottles — besides size, the main difference is that the 24-oz size has a ‘squirt’ type cap while the 20-oz has a regular cap. I can routinely buy either a large or a small box of cereal at my supermarket; the size difference is probably about 1/4 to 1/3. There are plenty of other examples too.

    Which isn’t to say that this is the case with Pringles. Obviously, I don’t know why P&G is doing what it’s doing. I do recall reading somewhere, many years ago, that P&G has spent quite a lot marketing and maintaining the Pringles line, and it’s never produced the ROI the company expected. Maybe they’re at a point where they’ll try anything to increase the profit margin on the product.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Wolfwalker:

    I’d mentioned the sodas as a counter example already. I’ll have to check to tendency in cereals (but thought it was a larger spread). I was thinking more of other food things like frozen and canned goods, butter and milk, bread, soap, etc. It’s hard to get shelf space for more than a couple of sizes.

    I wonder if the exceptions cluster around snack foods (where there IS about a 1/5 to 1/4 size disparity between various races and / or genders so ought to be a factor there).

    This could be an interesting thing about marketing… WHEN is a ‘trivial’ size variation useful? One is clearly for misleading promotional activities. I can see a case for “Wife want’s a 12 ounce, I’ll take the 16” ( or 16 and 20; or 20 and 24; or … quart sized). Yet the candy bars are typically “regular” and “king” but with the occasional “mini” or “bite sized”…

    Beer is in (mostly) 12 oz, 16 oz, 32 oz. ( Though I do have an odd 8 oz ish from Japan… and even a mini that’s about 6 oz somewhere…) and there are the odd Liter and 1/2 Liter…

    Wonder if folks are more senstive to beverage size than to snack size?….

  7. boballab says:

    EM:

    Now that you mentioned where the can came from, it explains it all for me.

    Those “Main Aisles” are where they put in their Promotional Items (This includes the endcaps that face the Main Aisles). What is typically in that Aisle that runs from Food to Electronics (This is in Div 1 stores not SuperCenters) is Rollback or Special Buy merchandise.

    In a SuperCenter Electronics is typically at the back of the store and centered on that aisle. So what they typically do is try to put merchandise that crosses departments. In this case you put a snack food item in or near Electronics since that is where they also sell DVD’s. Couple of years ago they had displays that had DVD’s, VHS tapes and Microwave popcorn on them for sale.

  8. wolfwalker says:

    I’d mentioned the sodas as a counter example already.

    Ah, I missed that. I must remember to read your posts more carefully.

    This could be an interesting thing about marketing… WHEN is a ‘trivial’ size variation useful?

    I’m not sure a 25% variation is ‘trivial,’ but anyway — the obvious answer is “any time the company thinks it will be profitable.” IE, 16 ounces for 99 cents looks far cheaper than 20 for $1.59, but it’s still nicely profitable for Coke. (Look at how much a 2-liter bottle costs, figure the cost-per-ounce, and then just try to tell me Coke isn’t making out like a bandit on those small bottles.) On the other hand, there are only two or three sizes of margarine containers or cereal boxes because those two or three sizes between them cover all reasonable needs. And if someone needs a size in between, well … then he can buy two of the (more profitable) small containers, or one of the large and throw away what’s left when it goes bad.

  9. Pascvaks says:

    Just like Light Bulbs, whatever the size get them while you can, they won’t be around much longer. Have a feeling that we’ll soon be going to new coin denominations too: Penny = Dollar, Nickle = Five Dollars, Dime = $10, Quarter = $25, $Bill = $100, etc. And you don’t even want to know what a gallon of gas will cost. Time marches on! (SarcOff)

  10. j ferguson says:

    E.M. and all,
    The folks who run the chains are no fools. Our favorite is the Publix supermarket chain in the southeast. they’re headquartered in lakeland FL, and having been involved with them in the remodeling of existing stores can say that they are a highly ethical outfit – and they do care about their vendors. They are actually loved by their customers – I know we do. Their northernmost store accessible from the water is in Beaufort SC. As we are southbound in the fall, the first shop at a Publix is wonderful event.

    At the same time, Publix is a business. We buy a fairly narrow range of food things up and down the East coast in the course of our annual cruises to Maine and back.

    Buying virtually the same things in every supermarket can be very informative. Sometimes the pricing is wildly different and seemingly inexplicable.

    For example; Bush beer in cans. At Publix, Bush is frequently as much as $0.75 cheaper if purchased in two twelve packs rather than one case of 24. I asked. “Everyone assumes the case is cheaper, so why not?”

    Although Bush Non-Alcoholic is packaged in 12 packs, it isn’t often seen in them. So I asked.

    “Almost all of this stuff is sold to people who won’t drink it themselves. They need to have it on hand for a party in case someone on the wagon shows up. We looked at our sales records and find that it’s very seldom sold more than a 6 pack to a customer – so if we had the 12-packs we’d die with them.”

    Everyone assumes that the store brand will be less expensive. Not necessarily when you get into boutique mustard and the like at Publix where Gulden’s can be less.

    “Again, people assume….”

    Or Coffee.

    I would love to spend a day with one of the guys who does the pricing, picks locations in the store for various things, etc. You can sense a great mind at work, but sometimes it’s pretty subtle. I love it.

    Oskar Myer Hard Salami can cost anywhere from $3.99 per 4 ounce package ( yah I know, way too expensive, but I grew up with it) to $6.99. Why?

    The $6.99 is at Shaws in Boston. They feel they need to have it but want to sell their deli salami which is much more profitable.

    What is in the package isn’t always the same. to wit.

    My grandfather was in the grain business in Minneapolis. In the 40’s through late 60s, he baked 12 loaves of bread every saturday. it was a matter of some pride in his community to be on his bread list – they were gifts.

    If you do this much baking, you get the routine down and there is little variation week to week. But he was having QC problems. It occurred to him that he’d used a 10 lb sack of “XXXX’s” Best. He had been using the 25 lb sacks. So he went back to the bigger sacks and the uniformity returned.

    Being in the business and the miller being a Minneapolis outfit, he talked to one of their senior guys who would have known. He did know.

    “We don’t really take the same care with the stuff that goes into the 10 lb sacks. It’s mostly used by infrequent bakers and for gravy. We never ever get any complaints.”

    Finally, my brother-in-law from the first administration ran a Pringles machine at the plant in Jackson, Tenn. He started with them in 1970, took all their stock options, profit sharing, etc, and retired a few years ago a very wealthy man. Bought a farm and has a big barn full of antique tractors. P&G isn’t all bad.

  11. PhilJourdan says:

    My Wife and I went to Costco this weekend, and she saw a bulk box of Pasta. As I regularly do the grocery shopping, she asked if it was a good price.

    I had no answer. We do not buy pasta often (we love it, but carbs you know), and when I do, I just buy it and do not look at the price.

    Guess food is now in the category of – if you have to ask the price, you cannot afford it!

  12. j ferguson says:

    PhilJourdan

    I, too, do the food shopping, which I enjoy. Being more or less constantly on the move, I have to learn the layouts of the different supermarkets that are within walking or bicycling distance of as place we can anchor the boat and find a dinghy landing.

    Having a standard shopping list which we have made into a form which can be printed 4 to an 8.5X11, then cut out and used for “the list.”

    There can be inconsistent logic in shelving and sometimes things like powdered lemonade, bagged jolly-time popcorn, hot and sour soup mix are not with other things one would think similar. The store mapping is likely done at a higher level than the local store manager. I’ve asked some of these guys and they often agree that looking for bagged popcorn with the walnuts rather than with the fancy micowave popcorn does seem odd.

    btw, the price i have above for oscar meyer hard salami is for 8 ounce package not 4. today it was $3.99 at Marathon, FL Publix.

    other thing we see variation in up and down the coast is the array of available pasta — much broader choice in Philadelphia, which likely has larger italian population, than say Miami Beach. Also don’t expect to find anything spicier than Old Bay seasoning in Eastern shore Maryland – no spicy sausages, no spicy chili, nada, nada,

    sorry to carry on like this, but..

  13. Derek says:

    Here in Korea, the physical size of the chip has shrunk to literally less than the old US silver dollar. They’re pathetic, and the recent batch of Sour Cream pringles was undercooked. I’m not wasting my money on this product again. Disgusting.

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