Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Paying attention to unit pricing in the supermarket can be your ally at a time when food manufacturers are trying to sneak by reductions in the amount of product they’re selling you.
The New York Times reports manufacturers are doing this especially when the packaging promises that the product is “new and improved.” It’s happening in a variety of product categories across the country, including canned goods, condiments, soups and crackers.
I was in a warehouse club using coupons to buy bars of soap recently. I noticed the soap was in new packaging and saw that the package contained 16 bars of 4 ounces each. But I had a hunch the package contained more the last time I bought it. So
I got down on my hands and knees to dig around and find an old package. Lo and behold, the old packages had 16 bars of 4.5 ounces each. Now, it’s not much of a difference, but I felt totally vindicated when I bought the old package and got more for the same price.
You can do the same by paying attention to unit pricing the next time you shop. Look at those labels that most people ignore on the shelves and you’ll be rewarded.
There’s an old trick in the snack business where the extra large package of whatever it is in many cases will cost more per ounce than a regular-sized bag. Snack manufacturers make the assumption that people who go for the extra large bag are not price sensitive. Knowing that can save you money.
If you just pay attention to the unit cost, you can defeat the manufacturers at their own game and fatten your own wallet. Plus, if you opt for the smaller package, you may thin out your own body, so that’s a real twofer.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. You can also listen to his radio show live 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday on AM 750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.