One caught me by surprise the other day. I had not noticed anything when buying some cake mixes, but once I was mixing one up, I happened to look at the net weight written on the front. If you click on the picture above, you can see closer. (The one on the right says 19.5 ounces.) The mix shrunk by more than three ounces, or about 2/3 of a cup! Same brand, same price, purchased about a year apart. To make it even less noticeable, the instructions remain the same as before: you add the same amount of water, the same 3 eggs, and the same quantity of oil. You end up with about 1/2 cup less cake batter, though, which means your cake will be a little less tall.
I checked all the cake mix brands at the store after this, and found that nearly every one had shrunk the same amount. The only exception there was the Western Family brand.
The first shrinking package I remember seeing was for ice cream. As early as I know, the regular carton size held 2 quarts, which is 64 ounces. A few years ago they shrunk to 58 ounces, and now many of them are 48 ounces. That's 3/4 of what it used to be. That means IF the price per carton remained the same, prices actually increased 25%. But prices have gone up, as well.
When expenses rise for the manufacterers, they have two choices:
*raise the price of what they're selling- which often discourages customers from buying as much- or
*reduce the amount of food in the package. Most people don't notice. To be fair, sometimes a smaller package is all the modern family wants. However, when the price of a newly-smaller box is the same as the older bigger one was, you know something's happening.
Tuna fish cans used to hold 6 ounces, as recently as about 5 years ago. Now they're 5 ounces, which is about 17% less food.
So when you're shopping, noticing the quantity in the package will help you understand the real inflation numbers!