Friday, January 21, 2011, AM | 2 Comments
Yesterday I went to the local supermarket to buy some groceries, some fresh vegetables, some frozen and a couple of store-brand packages of frozen pizza. In my family, living in New England, we keep a couple of pizza and a couple of cans of soup just in case we are snowed in and stay inside for a day or two.
We buy frozen dinners in one of the warehouse clubs. With coupons they provide, we save a few dollars.
When I buy food, I always look at the net weight on the package and compare prices among different manufacturers by the pound. I don’t look at the total price. That comes second. When the price per pound is less for a package of one manufacturer compared to that of another, then I buy the one with the lower price. I don’t go by the brand name. Learn to use mental math. It will come in handy.
A nephew of mine always buys brand name everything. When his older son was 6 months old, he would buy clothes for the kid whatever the cost was. He looks for the most expensive entree’ on the menu in a restaurant. Manufacturers and retailers are extremely happy to see someone like my nephew buy their merchandise. That’s whom they make the most money from.
The prices for different commodities that manufacturers use for their frozen and can packages have been increasing on an yearly basis since the government has kept abreast of inflation in different categories of food. In regular intervals, it lets the consumers know what the inflation rate is.
When the price for a commodity increases, the manufacturer is hard pressed to increase price as well for its package. Some of them play with human psychology. They twist the human mind so much that consumers give in and skip understanding it.
Manufacturers say such moves are their best option for coping with costs that are soaring, not only for the product, but also for the materials that go into the packaging. That means manufacturers don’t lose. They can make for the rise in inflation by reducing the size of the net weight. Consumers are the big losers.
If the manufacturer increases price, consumers would scream and skip buy the item. What it does is decrease the net weight of the content by, let’s say, 25% and sometimes decrease the price by 1% or 2%. Consumers, except people like me, don’t look at the net weight. They look at the total price which is lower now than was 6 months ago and consumers buy it thinking they screwed the company whereas in reality it’s the company that screwed the consumers.
What can you do?
If you look at items on the shelves of your favorite supermarket, you would find that prices for some have not increased. Look closely at the net weight and you would definitely see the net weight reduced by as much as 25%. Stickers aren’t telling the whole story.
Compare unit price. Look at cost per ounce, per quart, per pound, per sheet. Promotions change, making one size or another cheaper from week to week.
In a Nutshell
Always look at the price per net weight and not by the total price. You might think the prices have stayed the same or perhaps lowered, but you might be getting a lot less for the money.