Your stomach doesn't lie. Your appetite hasn't grown. Food containers have shrunk.
Familiar brands, such as Tropicana orange juice, Kraft Singles American cheese and Hebrew National beef franks, are playing the shrinking package game, said Tod Marks, senior editor and shopping expert at Consumer Reports.
"Of course, manufacturers all give valid reasons for downsizing a product's size, but not the price," he said.
While Marks agreed the rising costs of ingredients, labor and maintaining manufacturing facilities are all plausible reasons, he does wonder why, "When manufacturers start skimping when costs go up, how come they aren't more generous when costs hold steady or fall?"
Are consumers aware of this trend? Perhaps. But they are more worried about their wallets.
A study done by John Gourville, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, confirmed consumers reported greater sensitivity (or awareness) of price than of quantity.
Even in the bathroom
Another product to fall victim to shrinkage is Scott toilet tissue.
The old roll was 115.2 square feet, and the new roll is 104.8 square feet — a 9 percent reduction. Even though it has less paper, the new package still touts 1,000 sheets per roll.
How can there be less paper on the roll and the same amount of sheets? Are the sheets smaller?
"The manufacturer assures the consumer the reason is because the improvement increased the fiber by 10 percent," Marks said.
Unfortunately, once the manufacturer that holds the market share for a product downsizes the product, other manufacturers of the same product follow suit.
Smoke and mirrors
While most consumers picked up on the packaging change to their favorite ice cream pretty quickly, manufacturers can be slick at disguising the downsizing.
"One cereal manufacturer left the height and width of the cereal box unchanged but cut down on the depth of (the) cereal box," Marks said.
Cereal is stacked on the shelf with the front of the box facing out, so you probably wouldn't notice the change when taking the box down off the shelf, he said.
Yoplait yogurt manufactures an original yogurt and one called Whips! — both varieties packaged in the same size container. The difference: Original contains 6 ounces of yogurt, and the Whips! has only 4 ounces in the container. You'll pay the same price for both containers.
Why are they in the same size container? According to Yoplait, the reason is because Whips is full of air bubbles to give the yogurt its whipped consistency. These air bubbles fill up the container.
Nitrogen keeps the yogurt light and fluffy, but if you stir it down, it wouldn't nearly fill the container, Marks said.
Remember when you bought a jar of mayonnaise and you were getting a quart of mayonnaise? Not anymore. Same jar — but now you get 30 ounces instead of a quart.
Because it is only 2 ounces and the jar is the same, most consumers probably won't notice, he said.
Next time you grocery shop, take a look at the bottom of a jar of peanut butter, Marks advised.
With the rising cost of peanut butter, manufacturers are cutting back on the ounces of peanut butter, but not the size of the jar.
"The jars have what is called a false bottom," Marks said. "Turn the jar over, and you will see an indent in the bottom of the jar."
The indent takes up room in the jar, leaving less room for the peanut butter. But how many people turn over the jars to look for something like that?
End of standardization
"Consumers are becoming aware of downsizing, but it isn't easy to figure out which products have shrunk," Marks said.
Why? Because so few packaged goods come in standard, recognizable sizes now.
If you buy either Tropicana or Florida's Natural brand of orange juice, you are now getting less sunshine. Both companies have shaved 5 ounces off their half-gallon cartons of orange juice. The reason: last winter's freeze in Florida. Faced with the choice of raising the price or dropping the package size, the companies chose the latter.
Tropicana answered Consumer Reports' inquiries by saying the decision was based on consumer research, which showed people preferred to keep the same price and get a little less juice.
One last example — one that Kraft Foods strongly defends — is its boxed macaroni and cheese.
While the box size is the same, the ounces can differ depending on which noodle shape you buy. The elbow pasta contains 7.25 ounces, and the spiral or any licensed character-shaped noodle contains 5.5 ounces. Yet they all sell for the same price.
The shapes are more expensive and are a premium product, the manufacturing process is more difficult than the elbow pasta and the company manufactures more of the elbow shape, said Lynne Galia of Kraft Foods Corporate Affairs.