Ben & Jerry's even went after the size of Haagen-Dazs in its marketing campaign, pointing out that the rival company had downsized its "pints" from 16 to 14 ounces. But recently, some consumer products, like Pringles Super Stacks, and certain bags of Frito-Lay's chips, have shot back up to their original sizes. It's unclear whether increased package sizes are going to be part of limited-time promotions or permanent reversals.
Which products have you noticed products increasing in size lately?
As customers search for deeper discounts, they appear to be moving away from traditional grocery stores. In recent months, sales have soared at salvage supermarkets, no-frills operations where shoppers can buy food that's discounted, sometimes by more than 50 percent. The lower price, however, comes at a cost. Consumers may be buying crushed cereal boxes, dented canned tomatoes, or salad dressing bottles past their sell-by date. Inventory isn't consistent; availability is contingent on what brokers ship to the store.
Many shoppers are middle-class consumers who buy the majority of their food from regular grocery stores, but see salvage grocers as an opportunity for bargains. Like their conventional counterparts, these markets must also face inspections and regulations. Although inspectors aren't concerned about sell-by dates, as manufacturer dates don't imply when something is safe to eat, but rather when quality is best. Are you familiar with the salvage grocers in your area? Would you be interested in visiting one?
Although a recent report found that you can save both cash and calories by going through the self-checkout at the grocery store, some consumers have mixed feelings about scanning your own sundries. On one hand, you can bag everything to your liking, but on the other hand, the automated machines often get stuck on unseen errors. What's your take on them?
Next time you're waiting in line at the supermarket, do yourself a favor and mosey over to the self-checkout instead. According to Consumer Reports, ringing up groceries yourself could save you calories — as well as cash.
Last month, the magazine reported that the unit price of Coke at the register was more than twice as expensive as Coke sold in the beverage aisle, illustrating the fact that items sold near the checkout tend to be more costly than their grocery aisle counterparts. Since self-checkouts mean more distractions, fewer snack options, and a shorter wait time, bagging your own food could also be better for your health.
A 2007 study revealed impulse buys dropped more than 32 percent among women and 16 percent among men when shoppers rang up their own purchases. The same survey also suggested that women could lose up to 4.1 pounds — and men 3.1 pounds — yearly by eliminating impulse buys at the checkout altogether.
I've gone to the self-checkout in the past to purchase an item or two, but I must admit that I avoid it otherwise, since my impatient self can't handle it when the automated system gets stuck on a bar code or a bagged item. Nevertheless, these stats have me reconsidering self-bagging. Do you think there's truth to the claim?
These days, chain restaurants are looking for any way to eke out a profit, from offering cheaper steaks to haggling with customers. But given the economic downturn, many are no longer expecting to fill tabletops at dinner — instead, they're counting on customers at the grocery store. Restaurants from Jamba Juice to California Pizza Kitchen and even Tony Roma's plan to introduce new licensed food products in the next year. Yesterday, Starbucks unveiled its new Super-Premium Ice Cream. The new line of ice cream, created in partnership with Unilever, is inspired by coffeehouse drinks with flavors like caramel macchiato and java chip.
Healthy drink chain Jamba Juice has been sorting through production and logistics on a ready-to-drink smoothie made by Nestle that will be carried in convenience stores in addition to supermarkets. Certain chains that already have licensed, branded items in grocery stores are looking to aggressively expand them. California Pizza Kitchen recently introduced flatbread sandwiches made in partnership with Kraft, and the company plans to expand its product line. Rib specialist Tony Roma's is also broadening its line of heat-and-serve meals beyond baby back ribs to include pulled pork, pot roast, and other items.
Since consumers are dining out less and eating in more, it makes perfect sense for restaurants to move in this direction, but if the past is any indicator, I've found licensed food products are usually nothing but a letdown. Do you feel the same way? Could you see this being the moneymaker for restaurant chains this year?
Earlier we asked your thoughts on the Best of 2008, and that included your favorite grocery store of the year. Although prices went through the roof on everything from beef to dairy, you chose Trader Joe's as your number-one pick. For the second year in a row, it was the clear winner, taking 39 percent of the vote. We must be on the same wavelength because Trader Joe's is Yum's supermarket fave, too.
We love TJ's because it offers a variety of unique, all-natural food choices without breaking the bank. It's got a frozen-food selection, cheese offering, and wine section. We wish every grocer could offer the same value for the quality. In fact, we love the store so much that we experimented with a cookbook that exclusively calls for items from Trader Joe's. What are your reasons for preferring TJ's?
As we continue our coverage of the Best of 2008, I want to know which grocer is your favorite.
This year, we saw the cost of food increase across the board. With consumers on a tighter budget, pricier grocers such as Whole Foods have suffered. To keep up, these supermarkets are advertising deeper discounts.
Has 2008's economic environment affected your grocery store preferences at all?
Natural and organic supermarket Whole Foods really wants to be there for you during tough times. In fact, the retailer wants to give you a deal so badly that it's posted a printable online coupon for $5 off.
The discount is part of a new Whole Foods value guide called the Whole Deal. According to Whole Foods, the program is about "giving you the whole story, so you'll know just how to get the most bang for your buck without sacrificing the benefits of natural and organic foods." The packet, available in stores, contains more coupons, budget recipes, and recession-proof cooking tips.
Will you be downloading the coupon and running to the nearest Whole Foods to get your hands on the Whole Deal, or do you think this is just another marketing ploy?
- An Ohio congressman thought a bag of bacon was a bomb.
- As the economy spirals downward, cookbook sales increase.
- A giant cranberry bog has taken over Rockefeller Center.
- Would you pay $200 for a cookbook?
- Eight scrumptious sweet potato pie recipes.
- Don't let them freeze: bring herbs indoors to survive Winter.
- Wheeled grocery store baskets lighten your load and your wallet.