Small Wonder?

The Fancy Food Show occured in New York last week. While it’s hard to resist making snide comments about the event, it’s too easy a target and, besides, they donate their excess (fancy) food to City Harvest

In addition to reporting the dual flavor trends of honey and blood orange, this Times article on the Show featured this quotation:

“In a down economy, people still want to treat themselves,” Ms. Kramer said. “But one trend we have seen is smaller packages, like four-ounce cheeses, so they are not as expensive, there is no waste and they can go into supermarkets.”

photo by cjaffepickett via creative commonsUsually anathema to “value” loving Americans, smaller-sized packages seem to be on the rise. It’ll be interesting to see if they sell well with dollars tight. While smaller items are an enticement to get shoppers to keep buying those splurge items, they could mean less waste. 

I’ve noticed this trend with more prosaic products, too, like cereal. But what isn’t often discussed is that many food companies keep prices the same as they reduce the package size. It’s one way to avoid raising prices. A supermarket analyst recently told me that many bagged salads are being reduced from 16 to 12 ounces, with the price staying the same.

Lighter packages of produce is probably a good thing (‘tho the price hike, less so), as cut perishables can go bad so quickly. Cereal is harder to get behind. Most of all, I’m for choice in sizing, to allow consumers to better customize to their needs.

In general, small packages–with their higher unit price–might be worse for families. But they might provide more value for one or two people. Especially when the alternative is throwing away half of that Roquefort. Any thoughts on this topic?


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