I suspect NZ isn't the only country suffering from this. Certainly here in Oman we finding exactly the same thing going on .

Buyers 'disgusted' at product downsizing tactics
By BRUCE HOLLOWAY - Waikato Times
Last updated 12:00 07/12/2009

Shoppers overwhelmingly hate "sneaky", "greedy" and "dishonest" product downsizing practices which many grocery manufacturers are using to hold profit levels, a Waikato Times poll has found.

And the high degree of consumer disgust expressed in a the poll of Waikato Times readers from November 2-4 has shocked Mill St Pak'n Save supermarket owner Glenn Miller, who said it was an age-old manufacturing tactic.

The poll shows two thirds of the 173 respondents have noticed products recently downsized, with 85 per cent disliking the practice and 43 per cent agreeing it is "downright disgusting".

Readers cited recently downsized products as including chocolate, icecream, biscuits, potato chips, cereals, yoghurt, toilet paper and coffee. They most noticed Cadbury chocolate and Tip Top icecream.

Although some accept downsizing as an alternative to price rises provided manufacturers were up-front about it most respondents considered it a "greedy" or "weasel-like" means of making more profit and taking advantage of consumers. "The fat cats are just getting richer," one respondent said.

"Expose the thieves please," said another.

A third called it "blatant rorting".

Many described downsizing a product as an issue of honesty.

"If a company cannot be honest, then they should not be in business. If they want to put the price up, then be upfront and say so, don't put less in the box and then when caught out bleat that they were protecting the customers from a price rise."

Mr Miller was astonished by the antipathy. "That's a lot more opposition than I would have expected," he said. "Watties did it (downsizing) about three years ago, but that's now been and gone. Cadburys upset a few people with their moves, and I think people are more conscious of it because of the media attention on them.

"They are in effect putting the price up on a per kilo basis and if they didn't do that, they would have to put the price up. The positive with the chocolate is everyone might be better off health-wise with the smaller size."

He suggested shoppers swap brands. "Of course when the opposition do it as well as when Eta and Bluebird both did with potato chips a couple of years ago it becomes pretty hard."

Consumer NZ testing manager Hamish Wilson said recently the practice of downsizing packaging was widespread but risky for the manufacturer. "Consumers do react to all of this. There was a very strong reaction to the Cadbury change."

Several poll respondents called for retailers to display "unit prices" (price per 100g etc), so real comparisons could be made, a move backed by Consumer NZ.

"The marketers will pull all the tricks out of the hat that they can to keep us confused," Mr Wilson said. "Unit pricing is the only way you can really compare prices." That is something Progressive Enterprises stores (Countdown, Woolworths and Foodtown) already do. Mr Miller said Foodstuffs group would be doing so from next June.
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The poll margin of error was 7.4 per cent.

From here.