CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Size does matter these days -- particularly in the freezer aisle, where Ben & Jerry's is mounting a pint-sized assault on rival Haagen-Dazs. The popular Dreyer's brand has decreased the size of its "pints" from 16 ounces to 14 ounces, and rival Ben & Jerry's is trying to use that to its advantage.
On its website, Haagen-Dazs explains its shrinkage thusly: "Over the past few years, the cost of all-natural ingredients, like fresh eggs, top-quality raspberries and Madagascar vanilla, has increased by an average of 25%. The energy required to make and deliver our products has risen in cost as well, despite the recent dip in gasoline prices."
Haagen-Dazs representatives were unavailable for further comment. But the marketer's plight reflects a growing strain between package-food companies and retailers, who are facing increasing pressure from consumers to lower prices. Last year's commodity cost increases created food manufacturers' first opportunity to push price increases in about two decades, and they are not anxious to back down. Several brands have begun decreasing package sizes to split the difference.
Not exactly 'pint' size
Still, it might be a little harder to pull off when the size is called a "pint." Ben & Jerry's responded to its competitor's downsizing somewhat aggressively with a statement on the company's website that decries the smaller containers as "downright wrong."
"One of our competitors (think funny-sounding European name) recently announced they will be downsizing their pints from 16 to 14 ounces to cover increased ingredient and manufacturing costs and help improve their bottom line," the statement said. "We understand that in today's hard economic times businesses are feeling the pinch. We also understand that many of you are also feeling the same, and think now more than ever you deserve your full pint of ice cream."
The statement went on to say that the company was dedicated to high quality, and "the best value in every spoonful."
Ben & Jerry's did not respond to calls for comment on this story.