If, like me, you went to the grocery store recently and thought that frozen juice can felt a bit odd in your hand, it's not your imagination. Minute Maid has decided to reduce the size of its frozen juice cans as a cost-saving measure.
The move is, of course, not being announced. There's no obvious indication on the cans that their size has been reduced (the only real difference is that the logos have been rotated so they're upright when the can is standing), and at least one major grocery store isn't selling it for cheaper. On a trip to Loblaws last weekend, I confirmed that both the new and old size of can (the old ones were still in stock) were on sale at $1 each (the two have different bar codes, so it's not a technological limitation).
And, in case you're wondering, it hasn't just been ultra-concentrated like those liquid laundry detergents. They still recommend emptying the can's contents and three cans worth of water to mix the juice. So now instead of getting 1.42 litres of juice, you get 1.18 litres, a reduction of 17%
When asked about the change, Minute Maid (which is owned by Coca-Cola) said this:
"With the increase in commodities, rather than pass the total cost on to the consumer, the decision was made to adjust the package size to offset some of the increase the consumer would have had to pay if this adjustment wasn’t made."
I then asked why this change wasn't made clear to the customer. I didn't get a response.
Loblaws also didn't respond to a query about why it didn't make the change clear to customers and why it was charging the same for both sizes of can.
I can understand commodity prices, inflation and the increased cost of doing business. One could even make the argument that some of these frozen juices could stand to be diluted more, mainly for health reasons (I usually dilute them to a full 2 litres, and even then they're quite sugary). But households aren't going to reduce the size of their juice jugs or how much they drink, so this move seems strange to me.
Except when you consider how subtle it is. When you see it in the context of tricking the customer into buying less and expecting more, it all makes perfect sense: It's a ripoff.
At least a few posts on Minute Maid's Facebook wall (which is otherwise clogged with posts from people who joined under the apparently false impression that doing so would get them a coupon) agree. None of those posts got a response.
Minute Maid's brands include Five Alive, Fruitopia and Nestea. Other brands (including No Name, which is still at 341ml) are unaffected ... yet.
So if you're at the store and you're about to grab a Minute Maid concentrated frozen juice, check the can to see if it's actually smaller than you think it is. And if you see a 355ml can (especially if it's still on sale for $1), stock up, because they won't last.