Pittsburgh, PA
April 2, 2023
    News           Sports           Lifestyle           Classifieds           About Us
The Dining Guide
Travel Getaways
Headlines by E-mail
Home >  Lifestyle >  Food Printer-friendly versionE-mail this story
Yogurt cups not quite a full cup these days

Thursday, July 03, 2003

In a world of outsized, supersized, oversized fatty, sugary food, two yogurt companies have downsized their servings.

Consider me ticked.

Two brands of yogurt have downsized, making it difficult to guess which yogurts provide the most calcium. If the Nutrition Facts on the back of the carton lists 30 percent, it's equal to an 8-ounce glass of milk. (Peter Diana, Post-Gazette)

We mavens of the brown bag lunch are used to dropping an 8-ounce carton of yogurt into our lunch and considering it equivalent to an 8-ounce glass of milk. Today, Dannon and Stoneyfield give us 6 ounces of yogurt. One more healthful food we counted on goes kaput.

Most women need the calcium, too. Registered dietitian Kristin Joseph, who represents the American Dairy Council Mid-East, says fewer than 15 percent of women in all age groups get the recommended amount. Calcium in yogurts varies greatly, from 15 percent to 30 percent of our daily needs.

If the Nutrition Facts label lists 15 percent or 20 percent, the yogurt does not cut it with me. This is common with some yogurts that companies are trying to pass off as desserts. Buy a whipped yogurt and you may discover on closer examination -- look on the back of the container -- that it has less calcium, potassium and protein, which shouldn't surprise us because it weighs 2 ounces less, though the price seldom drops

No wonder we're wondering.

What we can't figure out is this: Comparing labels, how can a 6-ounce carton of yogurt still provide 30 percent or even 25 percent of the calcium that people eating 2,000 calories a day need?

Joseph says these smaller cartons of yogurt probably have been fortified with calcium. "If the label doesn't say it has 30 percent of the Daily Value for calcium, it isn't equal to a glass of milk, which is 300 mg of calcium."

After noticing that Dannon had decreased in size, we wondered if Yoplait cartons had also become smaller. In an embarrassing show of ignorance, we called General Mills, which owns both Yoplait and Columbo. "We have not downsized. Yoplait is in a 6-ounce cup and always has been," said company spokeswoman Pam Becker. "Columbo is 8 ounces."

Sorry, we'd always been either Dannon or Breyers customers and we'd never taken a close look at the Yoplait label.

Ann Moses, spokesperson for Dannon, which is owned by the Danone Group in France, said the company went to a 6 ounce container to put Dannon at "parity with a competitor" (that would be Yoplait). "We reduced the package by 25 percent, and reduced the price by 19 percent," she said. "If you were paying 89 cents, the 6-ounce would be 11 cents less."

She says unit sales went up 16 percent in February and 31 percent in March. "What else was a turn-on was Light and Fit is less than 100 calories," she says.

There were complaints in New York, Philadelphia and Harrisburg-Scranton, so she says those areas will receive "meal-size" 9-ounce portions -- at the former 8-ounce price. Come on, Pittsburghers, let's complain.

A couple weeks ago, worried about a domino effect in downsizing, we called Breyers, which is owned by Kraft, to see if that brand may be downsized, too. Nope. In fact, the company is making hay out of the competition's shrinkage. "33% more than Dannon" screams the Breyers label in red. Last weekend at our supermarket, both Breyers and Dannon brands had 10-yogurts-for $6 sales, but you got 2 ounces more with each Breyers.

When I complained about nobody asking me if yogurt should be downsized, my friend Kathleen Connelly of Auburn, N.Y., pointed out that a junior high girl she knows is happy about it. "She said she wasn't able to eat a whole carton, and now she can!" Kathleen said. "Doesn't that make you happy?"

Great. Now 14-year-old girls determine the size of my yogurt serving, just as 16-year-old high school boys decide what movies will be made.

Even if we're getting about the same calcium bang for the buck, I sense nefarious motives at work. Obviously, it must be cheaper for the manufacturer, else why would stores try to lure us to Mom-they-shrunk-the-yogurt products with big SALE signs?

We might never even have noticed, especially without an 8-ounce carton nearby for comparison. Call me cynical, but I fear prices will creep back up to what 8 ounces used to cost. I predict this hole in a grown woman's tummy may soon be felt in her pocketbook.

Co-worker Wendy Warner did a little math for me regarding the Stonyfield fat-free yogurt she used to buy: "I used to pay $1.09 (or 99 cents on sale) for the 8-ounce size. The 6-ounce size is 89 cents, but I'll bet it's only a matter of time before that goes to 99 cents. At $1.09 for 8 ounces, that was 13.6 cents per ounce. At 89 cents for 6 ounces, it is almost 15 cents an ounce. A small difference, but sneaky."

Downsizing -- the 14-year girl nonwithstanding -- is a way for companies to raise prices. But the practice can backfire if consumers turn to house brands to get more for their money.

But the thing that makes me maddest is that a 6-ounce yogurt cup messes up my recipes. And I'm not buying the Dannon spokeswoman's theory: "Most people who cook with yogurt buy our 32-ounce."I asked Family Circle food editor Peggy Katalinich, who recently wrote a diet cookbook called "Eat What You Love and Lose," if the magazine had been warned that Dannon was downsizing. "No, we weren't. And 1 cup seems like such a natural way to buy yogurt.

No longer can I write on my shopping list for my husband, Ace, "1 low-fat plain yogurt." I have to specify 8 ounces. When I made the Oregon Big Cheese Muffins, he had to buy two cartons to get 1 cup.

In the front of my refrigerator is 4 leftover ounces to remind me of the disdain that Dannon has for us cooks.

It'll sit there until it rots. I'm too mad to eat it.

Suzanne Martinson can be reached at smartinson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1760.

Back to top Back to top E-mail this story E-mail this story
Search | Contact Us |  Site Map | Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise | Help |  Corrections