CHOICE membership

Shrinking pack sizes and supermarket pricing oddities



Try this one for size!

The pic with the standard pocket size pen and average (not too large) sized tissue shows the side and top of the pack. The other side and ends have no more details. Fashion conscious design decission?

The text laden pic, mostly the brand name is of the under side or bottom of the box. Tucked away in finer print on one side in the corner are the details of the tissues , quantity and dimensions. The tissue size is in a lesser font than the quantity.

Our family shopper thought these were the larger more useful sized tissues. No idea what the pricing was. Since the last batch of politicians demonstrated they had no idea of the price of a loaf of bread or litre of milk our family shopper has seen the light. If politicians can choose which facts to forget so can we! The value proposition remains untested.

You can get them at Woolies and …? Tissues that is!

It is not lost on me that ‘Mumbo’ rhymes with ‘jumbo’.


The weight of the packaged gluten free bread I buy at Aldi shrank recently from 600 g to 500 g, however the price was unchanged.

Does any one have any other recent examples of this happening with packaged food and grocery products?


This is not the only game in town. Recently?

Most of us would have observed the change in Heinz brand baked beans tins earlier this year. Different variation on a the same strategy, same outcome. Based on Woolies pricing.

Old standard tin 425 grams? was replaced with a slightly larger new tin size of 555gm. A 30% increase in contents.

The original tin sold at various price points typically $1.99 or in some stores $2.49 highs. And genuinely on special at $1.00 a can.

The new larger tins retail at $3.50 and on special at $2.00. I did see a price drop sticker in one store last week. Not sure if this is local only.

A 75% increase in the regular price and a 100% increase or double for the on special price.

It’s at the point you need to carry an iPad and spreadsheet to track each selection against your purchase history to spot the changes. I have seen some shoppers actually pulling items out of the checkout to get under budget. Maybe there is a smart app out there that can do this, and even make recommendations on which store has the best price for each grocery item?

Perhaps another Choice app that can make some money by sales to non members even? And share the pricing data collected as part of a monitoring the supermarkets service. Noted that many mobile phones can scan bar codes etc to make this easier. Or would Woolies ban customers using the app as store market analysis?


Thanks for the suggestion on the pricing app @mark_m. Will be sure to send it our New Things department in charge of innovation.


Thanks for the info about changes in the size of cans of Heinz beans.
I had forgotten about that. I think it happened in Sept last year. Did it result in any significant increases in the unit prices (price per 100g)?


Only by back calculation! I’ve made comment as follows. Apologies for the added details and context.

No I don’t have retrospective pack and store label pictures. Or boxes of old shopper dockets, so it’s down to memory. We would all have more if Heinz had warned us a year ahead of it’s plans. It takes time to order all the factory upgrades to handle the change in can sizes, labels, packing equipment etc etc. And get the supermarkets on board.

The lead up to the increase in unit cost has been effectively disguised with lots of weekly price changes (at Woolies per our experience) on the 2017 can sizes. Even the old regular price varied if memory is correct?

Then the surprise of the new cans. A smaller one labelled to suggest just the right size for two, and a larger ‘more value’ can. Trickery, that even Russel Howcroft might find difficult to explain away? Are Heinz products only responding to consumer demands? Or is it share holder value? Noted the cost of navy/haricot beans varies, however these are like water in a coke bottle, the beans cost less raw in bulk than the packaging.

The prior standard cans on special at $1.00 each by rough maths would have been $2.35 per kg. The new larger value cans at $2.00 on special at $3.60 per kg, or regular $3.50 a can is $6.30 per kg!

The old standard can price from memory flipped around a bit. Typically $2.00 (actually $1.99 but I have always rounded up to lock out the price mind games). So $4.71 per kg. However I also recollect other variations in every day pricing including $1.50 at one particular store. In any month we would likely use at least three different stores in three totally different sites.

Given retail margins (profit as a percentage of total turn over, not markup on factory door price) are supposedly as low as 3%, you have to wonder. We had only ever purchased beans when on special. Expect most others did too. We’ve changed brands and do without the added ham style flavouring. They are a staple like milk and eggs, hence there is some keen interest in the price.

More than happy to see the photo evidence and facts from Woolies and Heinz if they care to speak up?

The logic of a larger standard can should be an overall reduction in unit price. Not evident here. I also remember a double standard size can (800gm approx?) in the old range from Heinz, but it rarely seemed good value. It was always more economical to buy two of the 425gm cans on special. This old larger can was priced at around $3.49 with specials rare.

Per my suggestion noted by Brendan unless as consumers we have a collective tool to acquire and share price vs product details there is no hard history for us to rely on. Unless you can turn an industry insider to an agent for consumer good!

We suspect something similar with the small tins of sauce with fish bits that were often 4 for $4.00 regular price $1.99 or even $2.49 each. We just choose larger cans of plain tuna or salmon and add sauces to suit.


Here is a report from the event. It would have been better if the price comparison was Woolies vs Woolies, but the point remains.

“the new 300g sized cans are selling for a similar price to the 420g version. A search online revealed Farmers Direct were selling the old, larger cans for $2.09, while Woolworths were selling the new 300g version for $2.”


Thanks Phil,
It’s good to note we don’t need Russel Howcroft to explain why the change.

As reported Heinz are blaming us consumers for the need to change the pack sizes and charge more!

These names are the ‘Lil One’ (130 grams), the ‘One for One’ (220 grams), the ‘One for Two’ (300 grams) and the ‘One for All’ (555 grams).
“First, we mapped how Australians consume Heinz Beanz, based on that, we started asking them if our current offer matched their needs such as the perfect amount of beans on a slice of toast, for a couple to share breakfast, for a family and to refuel for that perfect snack,” a Heinz Australia spokesperson told
“Aussies consume their beans differently to the rest of the world so we created a portfolio that matches their needs.”
End quote.

Yes our needs are different. That’s why we pay more for the same products compared with the rest of the world. It makes us feel oh so special!

p.s. It may help to understand Heinz logic if you ignore the portion sizes which are inconsistent with the suggested usage. Did Heinz also reference our NAPLAN maths results to be sure they got this right! They must have failed too!


Do you reckon the recent criticism of the outcomes of the Banking RC was modelled after this one?

It seems the flavour of the times is that ‘It is all our fault for noticing’ :laughing:


Now Cadburys are reducing the size of their family block choclates from 200 gm to 180 gm, a 10% reduction, accompanied by a reduction in the RRP of around 4%.

Very generous. Not.



I was discussing this with @ajohnson this morning. On the one hand, many companies are simply reducing the size and increasing the price at the same time. Now we have a case with Cadbury where they have announced the reduced chocolate size and committed to ‘slightly lowering’ the price. You can bet they were concerned at how this change would be received, based on the way they have handled it.

Once again, we ultimately see less value for the consumer.