Subterfuge - Hiding signs of inflation

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rhare's picture
rhare
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Subterfuge - Hiding signs of inflation

I was shopping at Costco the other day and when I picked up a package of toilet paper it seemed smaller than usual.  Not by much but noticably so.  So when I got home I compared it to a previous package (Old one on top).

Charmin - old and new

Notice the comments on the newer package (bottom), which show's "wider sheets", and now 30 jumbo rolls are the same as 83 regular rolls where they used to be only equivalent to 75 regular rolls.  Must be that deflation kicking in giving me more for my dollar!

However, if you read the fine print, it tells a different story.  First the sheets are exactly the same size as the older pack.  Also, the fine print for the "83 regular rolls" asterisk, it says "vs. Charmin Basic".  So did the "Ultrasoft jumbo rolls get bigger"?  No - they actually got smaller for a new slightly higher price.  So this must mean "Charmin Basic" rolls shrunk even more.

In June 2010, the top package cost $18.89 for 937.5 sq. ft. or $0.02015/sq. ft.  The newer package, purchased this week, was $19.35 for 866.2 sq. ft, or $0.02234/sq. ft.  If you only paid attention to the price, you would think only a 2.4% increase in 2 years, however, paying attention to the quantity and price you discover it's a 10.9% increase in price.

So, I decided to check another product, Bounty paper towels!  Old package on left, new package on right:

Again, more marketing hype to make you think you are getting more for your money, "Longer Sheets".  But this stories the same.  In June 2010 the package on the left was $18.99 for 915.2 sq. ft, or $0.020750/sq. ft.  The package on the right, purchased this week, was $19.99 for 857 sq. ft, or $0.023326/sq. ft.  By price it's a 5.3% increae, but by quantity and price it's a 12.4% increase.

Quantitative changes such as the two illustrated above are easy to detect, however, qualitative changes are much less obvious.  For instance the package of vitamins, also from Costco:

Now in this case the price dropped substantially, from $15.99 in June of 2009 to $15.69 in January 2012.  However, when you look at the back label, the formulation has changed quite a bit:

  • Vitamin C, went from 120mg to 90mg
  • Vitamin D3, went from 600 IU to 400 IU
  • Vitamin E, went from 60 IU to 30 IU
  • Zinc, went from 22.5mg to 11mg
  • Copper, went from 1mg to 0.9mg
  • Maganese, went from 2.5mg to 2.3mg
  • Chromium, went from 40 mcg to 35 mcg
  • Molybdenum, went from 75mcg to 45mcg
  • Tin, went from 11mg to 10mg
  • Lutein, went from 275mcg to 250mcg

So, you pay about the same, but get less....

The moral, the CPI information from the BLS are lies!  Looking at common everyday goods it's quite easy to see inflation at least double the advertised rate.

UselessEater's picture
UselessEater
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Good Post

Thank you I've been ranting about this for a while but your post really put's it in perspective. Remember when a standard can of fruit or veggies was 16oz and recipes were based on that? Now they have all shrunk while the price increased and to make things you have to buy 2 cans or the taste/texture is altered.

How about coffee, etc. Soon we will need a wheelbarrow to buy a bag of groceries.

From Deflation Push …To Inflation Shove

Presenting The Fundamental Flaw In The Fed's Thinking

The Deflation Myth is the Last Refuge of the Deniers

JAG's picture
JAG
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Self-Subterfuge

rhare wrote:

The moral, the CPI information from the BLS are lies!  Looking at common everyday goods it's quite easy to see inflation at least double the advertised rate.

Nice post rhare. I'm surprised that you took the time to research this after your previous comment to me that inflation had nothing to do with what I paid for goods at the grocery store (sorry, the link to that conversation is now gone). 

I agree that the "official" CPI is bogus, that's why I track my own personal CPI. Some items, mainly TP, have had small reductions in quantity over the years, but it's not like I have to buy more to compensate for this.

The bottomline is that many people "bitch and moan" about price inflation when if they really took the time to track price/quantity values they would come to realize that its not very significant on a personal level. At least that is what my 4 years of tracking has shown me.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On a different subject, you're wasting your money on a multivitamin as most of their components cannot be absorbed in the form used in these formulas, and many of the minerals compete for absorption in the GI tract. For example: 

  • With Vit. C it doesn't really matter if there is 120 mg or 90 mg in the formula because you will be lucky to absorb 10 mg. You must have a sustained-release form of vit. c to get any significant uptake in the gut.
  • Zinc and copper compete for absorption, and the form of zinc used in these cheap multivitamins has about zero bioavailabilty anyways.
  • Vit D will alter the uptake of several minerals, mainly increasing Ca at the expense of Mg and Mn absorption.

Ditch the multivitamin to buy more TP! surprise

Best...Jeff

rhare's picture
rhare
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Perhaps it is self subterfuge....

JAG wrote:

rhare wrote:

The moral, the CPI information from the BLS are lies!  Looking at common everyday goods it's quite easy to see inflation at least double the advertised rate.

Nice post rhare. I'm surprised that you took the time to research this after your previous comment to me that inflation had nothing to do with what I paid for goods at the grocery store (sorry, the link to that conversation is now gone).

If I remember the conversation, I think it was that it's very hard to track inflation on an individual basis over the short term since many other things can impact price.  Which I guess I'm kind of contradicting here.

However, my point was that manufacturers are hiding price changes by changing the products - reduced size, quality, etc.

JAG wrote:

I agree that the "official" CPI is bogus, that's why I track my own personal CPI. Some items, mainly TP, have had small reductions in quantity over the years, but it's not like I have to buy more to compensate for this.

Are you wiping less? devil

JAG wrote:

The bottomline is that many people "bitch and moan" about price inflation when if they really took the time to track price/quantity values they would come to realize that its not very significant on a personal level. At least that is what my 4 years of tracking has shown me.

True, at least on a short term basis for most goods as long as your not already straining to make ends meet.  However, if your not getting a 5% raise each year your loosing ground, slowly, but still loosing.

JAG wrote:

On a different subject, you're wasting your money on a multivitamin as most of their components cannot be absorbed in the form used in these formulas, and many of the minerals compete for absorption in the GI tract.

I figure it probably doesn't do any harm, might help if I'm missing something and it's only $0.04/day - since that the only suplement I take.  For vitamin C, I try to get all mine from chile. cool
 

JAG's picture
JAG
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Chile

rhare wrote:

For vitamin C, I try to get all mine from chile. cool

That sounds like a plan. My father worked at Los Alamos off and on during my childhood so I'm a huge fan of green/red chile sauce. I'm preparing to harvest and roast my early batch of big jims and sandia chiles this weekend.

Cheers to New Mexico, I miss it....Jeff

PS: LMAO at "wiping less?"

rhare's picture
rhare
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Ahh, the wonderful smell of roasting chile

JAG wrote:

That sounds like a plan. My father worked at Los Alamos off and on during my childhood so I'm a huge fan of green/red chile sauce. I'm preparing to harvest and roast my early batch of big jims and sandia chiles this weekend.

Wow those are early... I'm a brown thumb so I have to wait until September......enjoy

Q: How do you know if your a New Mexican? 

A: You have a seperate freezer in the garage just for green chile!

Ken C's picture
Ken C
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Posts: 753
Are you really thrifty?

rhare wrote:

Are you wiping less? devil

 

You aren't considered truly "thrifty" unless you are using both sides of the toilet paper.

enlightened

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1463
packaging

That TP was not only shiped via truck; it is in a nice plastic heat-sealed wrapper. Watch to see the packaging change, soon. Some places are calling it environmentally friendly packaging that uses "30% less plastic." Please. It's a way to keep the cost of packaging down. Green works best for manufacturers when there is s profit motive. Finally, there is.

Yesterday I noted the fresh mushrooms in my supermarket were no longer in little foam cartons covered with plastic. they were in little plain cardboard trays. And the size of the package had not gotten smaller for the price!

Another way to cope with this is to buy local things, or at least things that do not have to be imported. It's not only peak oil: inflation will hit Western  countries harder as the dollar and the euro become less welcome. The price of imported coffee has gone through the roof, just like the price of imported gasoline. On the other hand, peak oil means we are all scrambling to contain costs in our oil-depenent manufacturing and factory food industries. We can avoid their shell game of deceptive packaging by growing or locally sourcing as much as we can. Local--even local thoughout the US of A for us Americans or local in your country of residence--means, of course, less transportation costs. And fresh food through a farmer's market less packaging.

Speaking of chile? The days of Americans buying producewrapped in plastic and  flown in from Chile are soon to be over.

rhare's picture
rhare
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More on Chile (with an "e" not an "i".)

Safewrite, I agree on buying local.  Also buying in bulk and avoiding the packaging is nice.  I generally try to buy the mushrooms from the bulk bin at the grocery store instead of the boxed version since they tend to be cheaper.

safewrite wrote:

Speaking of chile? The days of Americans buying produce wrapped in plastic and  flown in from Chile are soon to be over.

For those who haven't been to NM, chile is a major cultural issue, and yes it's Chile, not Chili.  Here's a bit of a blurb on it:

Okay,  what's the difference between "Chile" (with an "e"), and "Chili" (with an "i")?

Order "chile" in New Mexico and the immediate response is usually "Red or Green?" Chile as we know it here is a variety of dishes where the major ingredient is either fresh green chile, or a sauce made from rehydrated dry red chile pods.

Chili, on the other hand, is more of a soup, made with meat and various other ingredients, seasoned with a mixture of powdered chile and other spices. Don't get us wrong...we occasionally enjoy a good bowl of Chili, but we've come to demand much more than ground beef, beans, and cheese of our Chile!

Source

We have chile festivals, chile research institutes, and every restaurant has chile, including all the chains like Wendy's, McDonalds, Pizza Hut.  Don't have chile - not going to do well. We even have a official state question: Red or Green?

We also have a push to buy Chile local.  There has been an agressive program from China over the last 20 years to take over the chile market and it's cut NM chile production by 75%!  You can read about it here.

rhare's picture
rhare
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Posts: 1267
Prices of paper products at Costco up again....

Purchased a package of paper towels at Costco this week.  Since last June the price has gone up again via hidden means.  The price for a 12 mega roll of Bounty (now right sized) paper towels is $17.99.  Wow a dollar price drop!! Deflation at it's best.  Looking at the marketing hype on the outside, you see that 12 Mega Rolls = 20 regular rolls.  Wait a second, that used to be 22 mega rolls.  Looking at the important number, the square footage reveals the whole package now has 709.5 sq. ft.  A bountiful drop from the 857 sq. ft last year.  So that means we have $17.99/709.5 = $0.025356/sq. ft.  Up from $0.023326/sq. ft. 10 months ago, a 8.7% increase in price.

Boy I'm glad inflation is well anchored.  surprise

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