SURVEY RESULTS: COLA Project

On Nov. 15, Glenn Beck asked you to help him track food prices. He thought that the 1.3% food inflation reported by our government was questionable and many of you agreed. Hundreds of you Super Seniors have volunteered the time and effort to print our grocery list, record your store‘s shelf prices, and input your findings to our survey page.

The COLA project is ongoing and welcomes and needs continued input from you.

Respondents were asked to track regular shelf prices rather than sales prices and to track the same brand and size items each week. This reporting is our base information. Future reports will begin cost comparisons and will also include average costs by geographic regions.

Many stores around the country, certainly stores that want top dollar, sell brand name items in everything…even the organic bananas…and certainly Eggland Eggs and Black Angus ground beef, for example.

SO we said that if your store does not carry something, just leave it blank when you do your input

If there are very basic items you would like to see added, please contact us through the web site.  Butter and peanut butter have been recommended as additions.

The original report of items on our Grocery List of commonly purchased basics was compiled from 851 records you submitted between Nov.15 and Dec. 14.

For this period we’ve calculated:

  • Average reported price for the last 3 months
  • % Increase (or Decrease) comparison from December 21 to April 5

Items Tracked12/21/20102/22/20113/22/20114/5/2011Change 12/21-4/05% Change 12/21-4/05
American Cheese 16 oz Brand Name$3.58$3.92$4.13$4.05$0.4713.1%
American Cheese 16 oz Generic$2.84$3.18$3.30$3.27$0.4315.1%
Eggs (1 dozen, large) Brand Name$2.62$2.74$2.75$2.63$0.010.4%
Eggs (1 dozen, large) Generic$1.78$1.80$1.71$1.63$(0.15)-8.4%
Orange Juice 59 oz Brand Name$3.24$3.29$3.47$3.43$0.195.9%
Orange Juice 59 oz Generic$2.49$2.72$2.65$2.77$0.2811.2%
Spaghetti 16 oz Brand Name$1.50$1.49$1.54$1.52$0.021.3%
Spaghetti 16 oz Generic$1.11$1.13$1.14$1.13$0.021.8%
Spaghetti Sauce 24 oz Brand Name$2.27$2.28$2.31$2.34$0.073.1%
Spaghetti Sauce 24 oz Generic$1.64$1.56$1.57$1.57$(0.07)-4.3%
White Bread 20 oz Brand Name$2.54$2.61$2.84$2.82$0.2811.0%
White Bread 20 oz Generic$1.26$1.32$1.30$1.23$(0.03)-2.4%
Whole Wheat Bread 24 oz Brand Name$2.82$2.91$3.07$3.03$0.217.4%
Whole Wheat Bread 24 oz Generic$1.58$1.62$1.66$1.56$(0.02)-1.3%
Ground Beef 80% Lean 16 oz Brand Name$3.35$3.69$3.73$3.74$0.3911.6%
Ground Beef 80% Lean 16 oz Generic$2.77$3.13$3.17$3.06$0.2910.5%
White Flour 5 pound bag Brand Name$2.33$2.96$2.80$2.80$0.4720.2%
White Flour 5 pound bag Generic$1.83$1.88$1.99$1.99$0.168.7%
Sugar 4 pound bag Brand Name$3.63$3.67$3.71$3.60$(0.03)-0.8%
Sugar 4 pound bag Generic$2.63$2.82$2.70$2.71$0.083.0%
Raisin Bran 20 oz Brand Name$3.45$3.58$3.67$3.54$0.092.6%
Raisin Bran 20 oz Generic$2.57$2.60$2.54$2.58$0.010.4%
Bathroom Tissue (12 rolls) Brand Name$7.63$8.17$8.37$8.16$0.536.9%
Bathroom Tissue (12 rolls) Generic$6.10$6.26$6.45$6.60$0.508.2%
Bananas/pound$0.54$0.58$0.59$0.59$0.059.3%
Milk 2%$3.16$3.09$3.23$3.37$0.216.6%
Gasoline Regular$2.93$3.16$3.53$3.63$0.7023.9%
TOTAL COST$74.19$78.16$79.92$79.35$5.167.0%

Comments from Super Seniors

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My wife and I usually spend $80 on groceries a week. A year ago that was plenty for us. Now $80 barely covers up the bottom of the buggy at Walmart.
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Whole milk in Coldwater, Michigan Walmart was 4.57/ gal the other day.
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Everyone should notice the decreasing size of paper goods and food packaging. Breyers Ice Cream has become so tiny it’s actually funny. Dawn dish washing soap has shrunk by four ounces. The prices remain the same. I’d rather see the products increase in price. This shrinkage is deceptive.
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Regarding the price of products rising, one also needs to count in the number of products that have downsized the product and/or packaging and are charging the same price or slightly higher. I noticed this first with Jif peanut butter and then with Kraft mayonnaise. They were the same price, but the containers were smaller – by how much I don’t know. I frequently eat granola bars by Nature Valley and had bought a new large box. When I took the first bar out, the product inside the package was over a quarter smaller than the one I had eaten the day before. I checked some of the other bars and sure enough, they are all smaller than the last box I purchased. The packaging is the same size; however.

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Since Glenn has asked us to track prices my wife and I made a chart with the items we normally buy. We shop Aldi’s first then Walmart and with our handy chart we not only can track the price gain but if we are in, say Menards, (they now are selling lots of food items) we know if the item is a good buy or not.

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We are empty nesters and do not spend a lot on food, however, you can imagine my surprise when I saw that the price for a pound of Land of Lakes butter was $4.49, and the store was displaying it as if was on sale. My fear is that it might be a good price a couple of weeks from now.

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139 Responses to SURVEY RESULTS: COLA Project

  1. Jeff Masarek says:

    I’d like to know where you can get a gallon of gasoline for $1.93. Those low prices sound erroneous at best.

    • Barbara says:

      Jeff, Dave and Judith, Cheryl Ann and others,

      We hope to answer some of your questions… The highest and lowest prices were already committed as anomalies. We specified to check shelf and not sales prices because some Seniors were shopping with double coupons on sale items and getting them for pennies..which is not the true product price. But the early reporting must have been some of those prices.

      The high prices were coming from Alaska and a few other states…NYC would be extra high also.

      We are hearing from all over the country already and will consider asking some tea party groups for help as we have some close contacts in some groups.

      The shopping varies from region to region more than we might have expected. For instance, in some areas you cannot buy a 5 lb bag of sugar…and so we switched to 4 lb because that was everywhere….until we received an email from someone who cannot find 4 lb bags.

      Many stores around the country, certainly stores that want top dollar, sell brand name items in everything…even the organic bananas…and certainly Eggland Eggs and Black Angus ground beef, for example.

      SO we said that if your store does not carry something, just leave it blank when you do your input.

      We will post some of this on the page to answer people’s questions

      • Dodie says:

        Barbara, we are asked to price a 4 lb bag of sugar. There is no such thing in our stores and never has been. Sugar here has always come in 5 lb bags.

        • Cath says:

          4lb bags seem to be the norm here (Phila)

        • Barbara says:

          When we started the survey, the size of the sugar was a problem.

          Our checking around the country revealed that almost everyplace had 4 lb sugar but not everyone has 5 lb. that was a shock to many of us who never knew there was a 4 lb until we were asked to look for it and then found our stores actually did carry it.

          If yours does not carry 4 lb then price the 5 lb and price it each week.

          The change in the price will still increase our % accordingly.

    • peteFL says:

      Sarasota Florida gasoline was $2.93 two weeks ago. Current price at a Marathon station – cash price- is $2.94.

  2. nina flora says:

    i too saw butter at 4..29 per pound last week. needless to say. we bought none. this week gerbes in our town has it on sale for 1.89 and hi-vee in a nearby town has it for l.69 but not worth the gas to go there. also i too notice the new pkging deception. everything is going that way. first quite a while ago was the 4 lb sugar instead of the old 5 pound pkgs,. the retailers, growers, manufacturers etc. are simply passing it on to us. just wait till this new legislation which refers to ethenol to coat Gore’s and other stockholders in all of the “green machine hoopla”pocket some more and penalize farmers comes down the tube along with other brainless wonder ideas of our congressmen…it will get worse, believe me. has anyone ever read in the Bible where it will take a bag of money to buy a loaf of bread–almost there folks.

    • Barbara says:

      This situation is what we call the big lie..the deceptive packaging is a huge problem. We are hearing it in emails everyday!

      Often the package design and color do not change, but two or three ounces less product is contained so the 10 to 15% increase in price is difficult to notice.

      People are buying so many things and not realizing they are paying more per unit. At least when they increase the price on the same size package we have an honest statement about the price increase.

      • peteFL says:

        Barbara, it would seem that whomever is setting the rules for this price gathering would be tickled to death to have them in unit pricing. Solves our problem of trying to find same sizes and would make price comparisons much more accurate and convenient. Has anyone ever posed this to the project manager? The sizes are not applicable to those of us who shop at box stores but unit pricing would illustrate the savings by shopping for best unit price.

        • Barbara says:

          hi Pete,

          COuld you email me about this and let’s see if it is possible.

          i have some questions and challenges re.

    • peteFL says:

      Unsalted butter at Sam’s Club in Sarasota is $2.495/lb. It is packaged in one pound block [I cut and wrap in quarters as a pound is opened] and 4 lbs for $9.98- bought some yesterday.

      Rice purchased today at Sam’s club was $0.415/lb – 25 pound bag for $10.38. Our 13 Patriots are having a food drive for the food bank and we purchased 25 lbs for them as our donation.

      If these quantities are too large for you, purchase with several friends and split the quantities. All you need is a set of electronic scales and some gallon zip lock bags

  3. spiegelk says:

    I also am watching the sizes of everything getting smaller and the price remaining the same. Pretty tricky!!

    • susan says:

      Yes about the sizes getting smaller, and it is not a recent thing. Over 2 and a half years ago my son was working at Safeway in Olympia, wa, stocking shelves. He said then that he had noticed that the containers had less in them, but the price was the same.

  4. Dave & Judith says:

    Not only the gas Jeff, but ground beef 1.35, a gallon of milk 98 cents, raisin bran 98 cents, sugar 1.24 and only 15.00 a week on groceries, cleaning supplies and paper products? Somebody’s doing some major fibbing here. Too bad, because this kind of reporting skews all the numbers. So much for trying to do a good thing. Undoubtly not a Glenn Beck fan.

    • TOTALLY agree on the FIBBING! Flat out lying about those prices. Definately out to sabbatoge this effort.
      We purchase the 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent. Bought several in October. Noticed it went up $3 since then!
      Buy in bulk before you cannot buy it any longer!!

  5. Sandra Marr says:

    This past week I noticed my favorite brand of Tomato juice was in a deceptive package which had a label all around the plastic bottle and you could notice when picking it up, that the container had large indented grooves which meant less space for the product. The bottom was also indented by about an inch, and sure enough it was 2 oz lighter in weight, and the same price as other name brands. It probably all started when the 1 pound tin can of Coffee went down to 10.5 oz for the same price, and was then packed in plastic or cardboard containers.

  6. The Duke says:

    Did they shop at Aldi’s?

    • Robert says:

      Aldi’s is a great place to shop. They recently opened one near me and I was quite surprised at the low prices, especially milk at $2.99 a gal. They have mostly their own brands but they are as good as the brand products and in some cases better.. I’m sold

  7. Marilyn says:

    I first noticed the smaller packaging while shopping at Sam’s in October. I go once a month and stock up on staples. One week I was there and they were ‘remapping’ the store and moving everything around. The next time I came in, I noticed that many of the items appeared to look smaller. I guess the idea was that if they moved things around, we wouldn’t notice that we were getting less for our money. I am beginnng to believe that the Great Value brand at Walmart might be a better buy than the trips to Sam’s several miles away. The Great Value brand is actually very good and usually as much as a dollar cheaper than the name brands.

    • Michele says:

      I agree about the Great Value brand. I shop at Walmart and Sams as well as HEB here in Kyle Texas. The Great Value is much cheaper than the name brands and just as good in many cases. I think Walmart is the cheapest here for staples.

      • Sally June says:

        Be careful about Good Value. I opened a can of green beans and the weight was the same, but there was noticably more water and less green bean in the can than in competitiors.

  8. Cheryl says:

    I shop the sales at three diffierent grocery stores. I check Piggley Wiggley, Sentry and Pick’n Save. Less product in same packaging. Never see brand name ground beef or eggs. Milk on sale almost one time a week for $1.99 w coupon. I see people are buying more generic brands now and looking for bread outlets. More difficult to shop the “outside” of the store to buy healthy. Some people still buying soda and prepared foods. Once in a while I see someone buying to bake. I have returned to baking bread, making pasta and cookies but not using alot of chocolate chips, etc. Have a freeezer and froze items from fall i.e. squash & carrots. Mke jelly and jam and even some peanut butter. Butter good addition to survey. Add coffee to survey also…..I love it and it is climbing…. :( :(

    • Making my own butter now days. MUCH better tasting & without the crap they emulsify it with.

    • Sandra Lewis says:

      Are you all aware that you can take butter and make clarified butter out of it and it can set in the cabinet for over a year and still be ok? I have done this for years as I am alergic to the milk solids in butter but not the oil itself. I buy butter on sale and make clarified butter; but it in clean used glass jars, put the lid on it and set it on the shelf. I have let it set for as long as two years before I used it and it was still ok. Google the directions for making it. It is really easy. Sandy

  9. Anne says:

    I too noticed the prices so low they can’t be real. I haven’t noticed much in actual price increases but the size shrinkage sure makes it much more expensive.

  10. Bill Schwartz says:

    Gasoline is going up fast in central Ca.. $3.29 today for regular at AM/PM.

  11. Alan in Florida says:

    Where in this country are the absurd maximum prices?? Perhaps home delivery from a high rise convenience store in New York City!! I believe some people are playing games and they aren’t reindeer ones either. Numbers like this skew the analysis which may be what they are wanting to do.

  12. Catherine near Philly says:

    Unfortunately we can’t tell who is reporting the truth and who isn’t. This reporting procedure for relaying prices is very unreliable. Where does one find a loaf of brand name bread for $0.29 or 12 rolls of toilet paper for a dollar. For more factual results, may I suggest that you enlist the aid of tea party chapters who could have point people in different areas of the country.

    • peteFL says:

      I make my own whole wheat bread and have for nearly 60 years. Current total price for 2 – 2 lb loaves is $2.04 or $0.51 / lb or $0.318 / ounce. Haven’t purchased bread since I began making our own so have no idea how much store bread costs.

      King Arthur WW flour from Publix and Sam’s Club bread flour with honey, yeast, and butter purchased at Sam’s

    • Andrew says:

      Hi,

      There are good ways to minimise the impact of erroneous outlying data. The most straightforward way is to use the median value rather than the mean. The median is much less impacted by erroneous outliers than is the mean. A further way is to remove data points that are greater than a given number of standard deviations from the chosen centre (median preferably) then recalculate the median statistic. 3 standard deviations is a common figure to use for removal of outliers. Further you can track data series from individuals and discount those that are consistently inconsistent (quietly, you don’t want them coming back under a different id).

      In your position I would expect that there would be attempts to damage and discredit your statistics, you should be actively countering such efforts.

      Good luck!

  13. Carole from NC says:

    The very first thing I noticed on the chart was the strange low/high prices. Definitely a thorn in the lovely roses. Rather angry at myself because of cleaning out this summer and threw away a stash of grocery receipts for the last 2 years. Wish I had kept them for comparison. My new stash of receipts started in January 2010. However, I believe the Shrink re-packaging has been occurring since the summer of 2008 with the Fuel Spike! It simply has gotten worse and YES a 4 pack roll of TP is about the same size as a small box of tissue or a cake mix!!!!! Aaargh….do they think we’re stupid?

  14. Barbara says:

    Jeff, Dave and Judith, Cheryl Ann and others,

    We hope to answer some of your questions… The highest and lowest prices were already committed as anomalies. We specified to check shelf and not sales prices because some Seniors were shopping with double coupons on sale items and getting them for pennies..which is not the true product price. But the early reporting must have been some of those prices.

    The high prices were coming from Alaska and a few other states…NYC would be extra high also.

    We are hearing from all over the country already and will consider asking some tea party groups for help as we have some close contacts in some groups.

    The shopping varies from region to region more than we might have expected. For instance, in some areas you cannot buy a 5 lb bag of sugar…and so we switched to 4 lb because that was everywhere….until we received an email from someone who cannot find 4 lb bags.

    Many stores around the country, certainly stores that want top dollar, sell brand name items in everything…even the organic bananas…and certainly Eggland Eggs and Black Angus ground beef, for example.

    SO we said that if your store does not carry something, just leave it blank when you do your input.

    We will post some of this on the page to answer people’s questions.

    • The solution to the sugar price rape is to purchase restraunt quantities. #25 poound to 50 is cheaper over the long haul. We have some very nice Cash N Carry stores. I have to travel a ways but, it is worth my time to buy VOLUME! Especially when it is used for canning next year.

    • peteFL says:

      Why don’t we report price per ounce or per pound and simplify the whole process? Point of sale prices also have prices/quantity so you don’t need a calculator, but it sure helps.

      I have been using MasterCook 11[ latest version] from Amazon for about $25. Been using earlier versions for over 20 years and if you record your purchases in their ingredient database the click of two buttons will give you price per batch and price per serving.

      I have a number of friends who use it and we all like the ability to enter your own recipes, get an immedient nutritional analysis, and cost as described above. It also comes with several thousand recipes and there is plenty of space to enter your special instructions, notes, and a picture of the final result.

      You can also import recipes in electronic form such as magazine recipes, edit quantities, instructions, and add notes and suggestions. Great program.

  15. J Warren Richardson says:

    Beware of WICS items which are subsidized by Uncle Santa Clause and their true price is paid by taxpayers when listing your items.
    Also I doubt that you do a sevice by listing Sale or Coupon Items off your sales slip.
    While it is a paint to look at list price labels – those are the only ones that do us all, as Super Senior a benefit when comparison of prices is concerned.
    Lose Leaders is a techinique used by retail stores for decades. The HAVE to be made up by burying there expense in other items. So do like I do, I print out the form and have bought a magnifier that I carry everywhere and I actually read those pain in the backside dang price placards, not my sale slip.

    • Barbara says:

      J Warren,

      Thank you for the extra effort reading the shelf prices. We have asked for regular shelf prices, not the sales prices…and certainly not the cost after coupon deductions! And the items reduced as loss leaders may lure us into a certain store but, as you say, the stores have to make up their profit margin elsewhere.

      The shelf prices can be almost impossible to read and that is not an accident, we know.

      What are WICS items?

      • kdonat says:

        WICs items are foods approved for purchase with government supplemented debit cards, formerly known as “food stamps”. It stands for “Women, Infants, Children”.

    • Dave & Judith says:

      So true J, reminds me of a couple of years ago when we were looking for an HDTV. At our Target Store, advertised Panasonic 47″ HDTV for $1,097.00. But I lifted the sale price tab and saw the original price was $1,098.00! We still laugh about this big $1.00 sale! By the way, we didn’t get this one.

  16. J Warren Richardson says:

    Web host comment: I fingered out part of the COLA moniker. Cost of Living – still can’t quite dope out if A means something derogetory, Association, or whatever. Please, it’s standard practice in publications to fully SAY what an euphemism is in the first paragraph below a term “everyone knows.” ;-)

    • Nancy from Louisiana says:

      It should be called COLS (Cost of Living Survey) instead of Cost of Living Adjustment.

      • Barbara says:

        The COLA is defined on the http://www.socialsecurity.gov site as Cost of Living Allowance…but elsewhere on the site the Cost of Living Adjustment to the Cost of Living Allowance is discussed.

        http://www.ssa.gov/cola/

        We chose the term COLA to use in the survey for two reasons. First because most Seniors recognize it…and second because of the irony most Seniors see of the ridiculous method for COLA calculations which disregards the inflation which is glaringly obvious.

        And not everyone realizes that food and energy prices are excluded from calculation of the CPI used to decide if there should be a COLA.

        “The CPI measure of core inflation systematically excludes food and energy prices because they are highly volatile. More specifically, food and energy prices are frequently subject to large changes that fail to persist, for example due to supply disruptions such as drought or OPEC-led cutbacks in production.”
        http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070321003718AAiw6yo

    • Darlene Crisp says:

      COLA = Cost of Living Allowance.

  17. HenrynBarbara says:

    Jeff:
    “A” = Adjustment.
    For example… SS (social security) is NOT being adjusted (again) for 2011 based on Cost Of Living; which is the whole purpose of this exercise. Just as manufactures are tweaking packaging to “fool” consumers, the government has tweaked the formula to determine inflation. Generally speaking, we all know prices are going up and its becoming more difficult to stretch a dollar. This project will demonstrate that even using a somewhat non-scientific approach, it can be shown that consumer prices are going up all over the country. Still, convincing our leaders of such will be another exercise.
    As an aside, if the data were plotted out, it would take the shape of a Bell curve whereby the extremely low and high prices would be outliers and for all statistical purposes simply ignored.

  18. Nancy from Louisiana says:

    It might help if we put the brand, then maybe Glenn-Beck-dislikers would not try to skew the results. Also if there was a mistake or accidental sale price, you or we could check.

    • Barbara says:

      Hi Nancy,

      We avoided specific brand names in favor of tracking the variety of brands Seniors will choose. Did not want to be tied to a particular company/brand in case they are not typical of the overall price mix.

      We have already removed the most extreme outlying prices and will refine that further.

      Wonder if we do have Glenn-Beck-Dislikers posting? Have the usual spammers trying to attack us….

      We will see how the results come in and if we have consistent bad reports from the same email, we can completely block that input.

      Thank you for the input here.

  19. Steve Edwards says:

    I noticed 2 things recently about toiler paper. The rolls are very loosely wound anymore. I assume the makers are trying to give the appearance and feel of being ‘super soft’, but the underlying result is less paper on the roll. I had been buying a national brand that wound their rolls very tightly and it seemed to last 3-4 times longer than the ‘super soft’ brands, but recently, I noticed that the rolls are now 1 inch narrower than the package I bought a month ago. Soon you’ll be able to fit 2 rolls on a standard dispenser.

    • Barbara says:

      Steve,

      We see increases in all paper products and the manufacturers are certainly doing all they can to fend off consumer pushback. However, what you are describing is even worse than just raising the price staright out.

      When manufacturerers change their packaging and presentation to disguise the price increase, that whole process is highly costly and further increases the end cost of the product.

  20. Jim Stivers says:

    I usually buy food at Walmart(wallyworld),and have noticed that they adjust their prices and goods to the market the store is in. In my local store milk is about $ .30 less that a store about 40 mi. away. Costco does the same thing,so I suspect this is a common practice.

    • Were very blessed to have achieved our goal in purchasing Jerseys for our farm. Wonder how long it will be before I have to register them?? I’m sure hoping we can get our chickens before the World Ceases to Exist as we know it.

  21. Jo Meek says:

    We live in the Phoenix area. Last weekend we were on the other side of the valley and saw gas for $2.83. This is 43.2 miles from our house (yes, I mapquested it). Monday bought gas 2 blocks from our house for $2.92. Today (six days later) gas on our side of town at the same station as last week is $2.96. Needless to say will be combining shopping trips and mapping my driving to be more conservative.

    • Ruth Anne Fernandez says:

      We live in FL. On Nov. 10 we purchased gas for 2.88/gal. On Dec. 12 we paid 3.04/gal. We combine our shopping trips to use as little gas as possible.
      We purchase many of our household items from Big Lots. Re: the TP issue, Big Lots recently changed their packaging. I have stocked up, so I have two packages on hand. They are 12 rolls for $5.00. The older packaging has 420 sq. ft., 300 2 ply sheets, 4.2 in. X 4.0 in. The new packaging says NOW, SOFTER AND STRONGER! But, 381 sq. ft, 286 2 ply sheets per roll, 4.0 in. X 4.0 in. per sheet. Same price $5.00 for 12 rolls. Packaging appears to be about the same size, but definitely getting less in the new package. It is, however, softer and stronger, so I can use less. Satisfied on the toilet paper tissue – issue for now. Keep smiling!

      • We have gone to purchasing industrial large round rolls. FORGET the supermarket jacked up prices poor quality stuff. Again We decided to just purchase industrial supplies & call it a less nightmare. The large round dispenser and a case of 8 huge rolls should last a year!

  22. J Warren says:

    Thank you for all the comments which are helping me to realize that I’m not just a doomsayer who has been seeing these trends in price manipulation and no one else sees them. There are likewise wide price differences depending on the affluence level of the area even on different sides of town. My wife and I often travel 15 miles from south Irving Texas to the much more affluent Los Colinas district in north Irving to buy rest room and break area consumables for the clinics we clean at night. Both Sam’s and Wal-mart have substancial differences in price – gasoline too varies sometimes 15 cents a gallon.
    I sometimes opine on Yahoo! Answers social net. It is clear there are som very hateful of Glenn Beck and the 912 project types out there. Misinformation and denial are very extant with not a few individuals and their motives for skewing perfectly proovable data is a mystery to me. Nothing that I have spot checked in GB’s program or book(s) has been far from spot on and the comments above in this thread are very well articulated so don’t give up or get dismayed – persistence is more valuable than any other ingrediant when trying to bring truth into an area. Thank you all for letting me know that my observations of reality are not the smoke and musings of a paranoid delusional. ;-) Warren Richardson, Irving/grand prairie Texas.

  23. Chris and Larry says:

    We live in Iowa in the country 15 miles from 3 towns who all have a Hy-Vee, Fareway and Walmart stores. Each of the company stores tend to differ from the other stores in price depending on the town. We have seen at times 10-20% difference, it pays to know your local stores regular prices. The Walmart tends to have lower prices for cleaning, personal care & laundry products but not for the food. Occasionally it will match the other stores sale prices on some food items. Fareway always matches the other stores advertised sale prices, so we tend to go there for most food items.

  24. J Warren Richardson says:

    Suggestion: In the absense of confirmable data one can get a model of reality of data if one qualifies some of the variables by grouping similar data and eliminating extremes. Geographic areas need to added to the informtion data base. Datums from each state could be a start point. That way bread basket states like Nebraska are not grouped with staples food import states such as Alaska. In addition, high/low datums should be removed as a matter of course from the averaging done of necessity by those calculating the summary of inputs into Super Seniors COLA. With the rough area data then U.S. COLA can be done, as well, with a fair degree of certainty that the information is not skewed by the inputs of left wing sabeteurs in this system.

    • Barbara says:

      J Warren,

      Thank you or your advice. We will be looking even closer at the data now that we have some of the original issues resolved.

      More of the highs and lows will come out…and we do plan to do as you suggest and give information by states grouped regions of the country. We are looking into at right now to see how the states could be grouped most meaningfully.

      So many people are contributing their time to do this survey..and it will be ongoing for some time…we are determined to get the very most value from the data.

      The comments here are helpful to us in hearing concerns and useful input.

      • peteFL says:

        Let’s include unit price displayed at point of sale. This eliminates the problem with different sizes and packages and gets down to what you are really purchasing. Package size tends to confuse, on purpose to stimulate sales of smaller quantities. Unit pricing cuts through this to the actual product cost.

        Store brands in the same size and shape packages usually come from the same processor as the name brands. Don’t believe the old saw “If it costs more, it’s gotta be better”

        It costs too much to shut down and clean a processing system to put a lower quality product in the same package with a different label. Been there, done that.

        Cost of advertising increases the sale price while the store brand just appears on the shelf with no cost of advertising.
        It’s all a matter of economics and marketing, folks.

  25. There seems to be so many dysfunctional reports due to Hateful People who would rather we be followers than leaders.
    I refuse to be a victim.
    Washington State & Alaska are very expensive to live in.
    Survival will be those who listened early on & bought bulk, years supplies of the BASICS then went on to purchase expanded items.
    Don’t forget become a gardener. SEEDS SEEDS SEEDS…. put em away!
    Water is precious so remember it first. Filter or storage.
    Personally I canned over 200 cases of products for my husband & I in the Harvest months. My Christmas present was cases of lids for next season and next season canning.

  26. Sue says:

    The prices in Dallas for a gallon of milk is $.99 – our eggs are .67 & I can buy bread for $1.50. 4 pounds of sugar is .69. Our gas prices are $2.83. These are the real prices. Merry Christmas Blessings to all you.

    • Barbara says:

      Hi Sue,

      We all want to shop in Texas! What stores are you generally shopping…same one or more than one??

      Would be good to know the store names in case they are chains..even local or regional chains….then we can see if those prices are offered throughout the chain…
      Thakn you for posting this..hope to get your reply.

  27. J Warren Richardson says:

    H’low Sue,
    I too live in the DFW Metroplex. The 99 cent milk and .67 cent eggs are no doubt WICs milk and eggs. While checking out at Walmart I noticed the family in front of us in line checking these items out. The Checker did not ask for the welfair debit card that WICs food items are targeted at. I assum that Walmart could care less that the program which is to insure that Women, Infants and Children in need of food stamp assistance are being scabbed by anyone else who wants a cheaper tab when they buy food. Walmart knows that when it’s computers do their regular electronic “settle batch” transaction that their software will list every WIC’s item on an invoice to the state administration that overseas welfare here in Texas. What that means those of us whom pay taxes is we get to subsidize anyone buying WICs food. I draw the line however at listing those items in the super seniors COLA survey, please don’t do it. It skews the survey data.
    Mark WICs down to just another carry over legacy from that paranoid president Nixon who was terrified that the poor would not vote for his re-election.

    • Sue says:

      These are items that I normally buy – the milk & eggs & since Aldi’s has opened Walmart has kept their milk at .99 cent. I only post the real prices. Merry Christmas.

  28. Alan in Florida says:

    I lived a lifetime in the food business, starting when I was 16. As I progressed, stocker, store manager, regional office buyer and merchandiser, private label regional sales manager and senior marketing manager I was exposed to virtually every facet of the business.
    It is not new that products are downsized. It has been going on for years especially since government (in its infinite wisdom) instituted price controls. Under Nixon if I recall correctly.
    Down sizing originally started to keep a product within a specific price point as inflation increased costs and continues to this date. The faster inflation increases the greater the disparity between packages as manufactures struggle to maintain a specific price point. I suspect manufacturers of food products will, within a year or so, just throw up their hands and forget price points as they will be unable to keep up with package label changes due to rapidly increasing costs.
    The accelerating inflation we are experiencing is a direct result of malfeasance of our elected representation and the bureaucrats hired by them. Every action of government has consequences – those intended and those unintended. As example, turning US corn into alcohol has negatively affected the food supply (not just corn products) around the world in both supply and price. If you want to see what is coming at us in a big way in food – take a look at agriculture product futures. Scary!
    In the meantime; it is extremely important people learn to shop with a calculator in hand. Many stores show a cents per ounce, etc for products which must be the major consideration in shopping for price. Others do not, or may not calculate specials for the shelf tag.
    Previous commentary on downsizing of ice cream illustrates the need for us to prepare a few reference data sheets. A data sheet I gave my wife reads like this (paraphrased): If Bryers Ice Cream 48oz is $2.50; the 56oz equivalent is $2.92; the 64oz equivalent is $3.33. So, $3.00 for the 64oz is a better buy. (Note: We purchase ice cream only when it is on sale.) Continuing, Bryers Ice Cream 48oz is $3.00; the 56oz equilivant is $3.50; the 64oz equilivant is $4.00. Obviously, the numbers serve going from high to low.

    • Barbara says:

      Alan,

      Can you post this as a new topic on the Senior Chat page?

      It is informative from a point of view few of us have.

      It would be good to get the point out there of where food prices are going..and how important it is to look at price per unit…and with a calculator.

  29. Barbara says:

    Alan,

    Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge with us. You are so right about shopping with a caculator…and as another Senior said, with a magnifier because some of the shelp labels have per unit pricing but the print is so small.

    The malfeasance of politicians fo years buying political power with favors out of our pockets has indeed brought us here. A country with abundant resources where fesh high quality food should be inexpensive, has been coopted by the striving for power.
    The newspaperI follow in a rural community reported recently that farmers today are getting much more production per acre with less cost than in the 50′s.

    Here is the article which shows us in another way the complete absurdity of food in this country becoming so expensive.

    Farmers grow more food with fewer resources, new USDA report shows

    http://www.thecourier.com/Opinion/columns/2010/Sep/GW/ar_GW_092110.asp?d=092110,2010,Sep,21&c=c_10

    Today’s farmers grow more food with fewer resources. Conservation tillage is up and soil erosion is declining. Farmers know this based on experience. Now, a new report confirms this nationwide.

    The 2010 National Resources Inventory, recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, shows farmers and ranchers are careful and caring stewards of natural resources.
    The massive report, coupled with the latest USDA productivity figures, confirms the shrinking environmental footprint to produce food and fiber.
    The 2010 National Resources Inventory includes 50 years of data related to the environment, land use and productivity, water consumption, and many other factors. Careful analysis quantifies how farm and ranch productivity has increased during the past 25 years while environmental performance and water quality have improved.
    There are several major points that tell a compelling story about agriculture.
    First, while farm and ranch productivity has increased dramatically since 1950, the use of resources (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.) has declined markedly. For example, in 2008 farmers produced 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer resources compared with 1950.
    Second, total U.S. crop yield has increased more than 360 percent since 1950, helping America’s farmers and ranchers feed a growing world.
    Additional points of importance include how America’s dairy farmers are producing more milk with less feed. It takes 40 percent less feed for a cow to produce 100 pounds of milk than it did 30 years ago.
    Further, U.S. farmland used for crops has declined by 70 million acres, or 15 percent, since 1982. And soil erosion continues to decline. Careful stewardship spurred a nearly 50 percent decline in erosion by wind and water since 1982.
    These facts, based on in-the-field science, are worth sharing.
    What many farmers are doing this week:
    Continuing with corn and soybean harvests and attending Ohio Farm Science Review.
    Wilson is area leader, Maumee Valley, extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, for The Ohio State University Extension service in Findlay. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via e-mail at wilson.26@cfaes.osu.edu.
    Wilson can be heard with Vaun Wickerham weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. on 106.3 The Fox.

  30. J Warren says:

    At the risk of being out of school, my Code forces me to make this disparaging comment. I’ll understand if it is deleted… However:
    There is a quote by one 912 Super Seniors COLA contributor who I absolutely consider a government stooge, straight out of the federal misinformation digest. That contributor pointedly avoided the one thing we all should be interested in… Just how nutritious are products of those farms and ranch’s incredible increase in agricultural production? What is the economic AND nutritional impact on the quality of food items being grown and sent to market for you and I and the Women, Infants and Children of the WICs welfare system, to eat?
    One myopic citation extols the 40% reduction in feed for cow and dairy production. It completely avoids the reality of individual cows being held up in slings so they won’t expend energy on anything but gaining fat weight for X number of days while being force-fed corn. By “force-fed” I mean that there is a plastic tube implanted down their throats from a gravity feed hopper full of corn and sorghum into their first stomach. This practice is being done nationwide to bovines genetically disposed to eating grass. They are then slaughtered just days before they would otherwise die (statistically) of malnourishment… To be replaced by another cow on the assembly line. The end result is the enzymes and trace food elements found in grass-eating, free-ranging animals is completely lacking due to their being fed government subsidized corn fertilized by chemicals as the cheapest means to make meat and milk for market, from these unfortunate beasts.
    We seniors are easily duped into reporting that we are buying dead milk subsidized at .99 cents a gallon (and the difference paid by state food stamp administrations for fair market prices) sitting next to containers of range fed organic milk running in the 3 to 4 buck pprice point per quart and then, every week, going down the aisle to buy 20 bucks more of vitamins and estrogen enhancement shampoo because our hair is falling out due to nutritional deficiencies… Does anyone see the connection?
    WICs subsidized food are farm and ranch WORST offenders on the issue of using standard three chemical commercial fertilizers to get the most bang for the buck and for marketing all but dead food on the grocery shelves.
    Bottom line: If a worm cannot live in the ground of foods that one is going to buy for nutrition – don’t buy it. If it is animal protein from feed lots and ponds whom all use corn meal to fatten their products, don’t buy it. In other words if it does not have the label, “Organic” on it; or if it is genetically modified (has a patent owned by a chemical company,) I ask you in all good conscience, don’t buy it. Of course, what’s left is going to cost much more to the point we have to look at growing it ourselves.

    • peteFL says:

      J Warren – you are so wrong I don’t have time to respond to all your assumptions. Cows held in slings to produce more milk – just plane wrong. I am a retired dairy farmer and your statement must have come from one of the so called “Animal Rights” group like Pita. Two of there representatives came to my farm to complain that we raised new born calves in separate plywood structures, outside in the weather. I asked, when your kid comes home from school sick do you immediately expose the rest of your children or do you send the sick one to rest in bed or play by him/herself? They agreed that isolation made more sense so that took care of that concern when I explained that until a calf develops immunity from some diseases they are totally at risk of getting sick and possibly dieing.

      Next concern – “they don’t get a chance to develop socially” I said, take a look around and tell me what you see. Are any of the older calves, heifers, or cows separated. Answer “No”. Turns out their problem was they had to find something wrong to support the “cows are misused and tortured” basis of their supervisor and the organization.

      The statement that soil erosion has decreased is also a farce. Yes we try to hold our productive resource – soil – from washing away but let me give you just one instance of fraud the USDA does to promote certain programs.

      I had been chair of our County Soil and Water Conservation District for a number of years. Our one Federal employee was instructed to have our other employes measure sediment content of runoff water. They estimated it should be a certain amount. I watched the sample results and the sediment content was a fraction of their estimate. Our results were reported and at a higher level, changed to the original estimate. Who is fooling whom?

      I read the report on your link and there are so many variables left out to build a conclusion that It is a laugh. I hate to get in these kinds of reviews because the tendency is to believe published material without knowing any more that what is contained on the paper. Global warming or interglacial period? Now there is a conclusion based on junk science that even the UN admits was falsified for political reasons.

  31. Jim says:

    I love following the commodity market. Common Sense has told me prices at the grocery store have risen over the past two years and will continue to do so. Whether it is down sizing the product that began a couple years back or actually raising prices on and keeping a pound a pound. Inflation bagan and people didn’t notice. I did start to spread the word back then. People today are now just realizing cost of living is and has not been recorded and properly reported by the Government. They have to change the formula for caculating COLA. They must include food and fuel in COLA. They, the elected officials that think they are elite will not change, unless we bring about term limits and restore Common Sense. Term limits are brought about by people going to the polls and sending lifetime politicians home to the farm to eat their own pork earmarks. Gas today in central Missouri $2.79, soon to be higher as corn is now $6.02 a bushel on commodity market. It was only $3.50 this past summer. Please rememember we subsidize, as taxpayers, ethalnol that goes into Al Gore’s new blend of gasoline for your autos. Oh me, don’t that make food on the table become higher in price, huh? Just common sense. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays folks. Stay positive friends, we can change our current conditions at the voting booth. You betcha, I’m a proud lover of the Declaration of the United States and the U. S. Constitution. Oh ya, a Teabagger too.

  32. Dan says:

    Gas for my car is up to $3.15 30 miles west of Chicago and $3.25 in Chicago as of 12-28-10

  33. Jim T says:

    This deceptive packaging is getting way out of hand….. I guess the companies think that we are creatures of habit and wont notice…. I’m afraid that things will get much worse before it gets any better….. being a backyard gardener for many many years, we have started growing a lot of our vegetables and freezing and canning what we can…. I am doing this to help offset all these high costs, especially the cost of vegetables in winter….. I don’t know where the winter (or summer) vegetables come from, I really am afraid of what’s in them as far as pesticides, and who knows what chemicals….. That’s why I have set up an Aquaponics system in a greenhouse so I can grow alot of my own vegetables, all year round…..with the aquaponics I dont have to use any chemical fertilizers, and I completely stay away from any type of pesticides. the edible fish supply all the nutrients the plants need.

    I think every family needs to grow some of their own food or there will be a lot more families going hungry….. this government along with all the big companies are slowly making us dependent on them…. pretty soon we will be standing in soup lines again and thats not a pretty picture…..

    become more self-sufficient and have a chance to have more choices!

  34. Dan says:

    Today gas is $3.29 in Saint Charles,IL
    30 miles outside of Chicago

  35. Priscilla says:

    I have been participating in logging prices, and found it very informative. I too see the changing of volume and downsizing in packaging. Coffee changed several years ago. The hardest part for me has been estimating what we spend per week. We buy in bulk and freeze the perishable items. I vacuum pack dry foods. We raise chickens for eggs (and potential meat when/if it is needed) and organic beef, and I have a big vegetable garden and a small orchard from which I can and freeze our foods. I bake bread and make organic granola with grain grinders and oat flakers as basic kitchen tools. It is difficult to grow organically, but with practice it becomes easier every year. The work involved is pleasurable to me, and I feel sorry for folks trapped in apartments and cities. We have clean well water, and treasure all our resources. I am trying to pass the knowledge on to my children, knowing the time is coming when we will be the most fortunate of people as we will be able to provide for ourselves and others. I always encourage folks to grow some food…even in a flower pot or on a window sill. With the Monsantos of the world taking over food production and forcing engineered seeds and huge amounts of chemicals into the food chain, I fear the health of our grandchildren will decline rapidly. Individuals have to return to the basics of taking care of themselves. I am encouraged that other seniors are participating in returning our nation to less dependence on the government and teaching the coming generations what the freedom we have is all about.

  36. Don in Illinios says:

    We have grown our own wheat every year now for 3 or 4 years. I grind it up for flour and my wife bakes using 1/3 to white flour. It is more nutritious than white flour. We sow it in the fall in patch about 10 or 12 feet square. This is part of our preparation for changing times. As Glenn Beck states, “The only thing we have to fear, is not being prepared.

    • Priscilla says:

      Don,
      How do you harvest your wheat? I grew naked oats as an experiment and still have not managed to get them off the stalks! Yes, maybe I am just stupid, but I don’t have the arm strength to beat the grains off. Not enough children to impress into hard labor, either. LOL
      How does one harvest grains without a wonderful harvesting machine? …God bless those inventors! We have land enough, but only a tractor, plow, disc, and a bush hog.
      I am all for self sustaining farming, but am stumped with grain production. Any help?
      Priscilla

      • Don in Illinois says:

        Priscilla,
        I will try to detail the process I use:
        1. We, my wife and I, started by buying a pair of leather gloves.
        2. Then I just pulled the heads off the top of the wheat stalks. You could also use a scissors which I did at first, but found it to be to tedious. If you grab a number of stalks with one hand and use the other hand to pull off the heads.
        3. Then I went to a hardware store and purchased some rabbit netting with 1/4″ squares openings 3 foot x 3 foot. Also we purchased some window screen the same size, make sure it is the metal kind,
        4. I also purchased some 1″ x 4″ boards and made 2 box frames 3 foot x 3 foot and stapled the rabbit netting to one of box frames and the window screen to the other box frame. You will need to support it somehow about waist high so it easy to work without bending over to much.
        5. I put the 1/4″ rabbit netting box frame on top of the window screen box frame. Then we started rubbing the wheat between our hands, some of the straw will fall thru, but the large pieces will not.
        6. Then I put the window screen frame on something hard like a flat board and started rubbing the wheat against the screen. What you are doing is separating the wheat berries from the chaff.
        7. Then you will start the winnowing process, we use a couple of gallon ice cream pails and a fan to start blowing the chaff out of the wheat, continuing to pour from one pail to the other pail over and over until it is clean.
        8. The last thing you will need to do is let the wheat dry. If you are in a humid area you will need to pour the wheat back and forth a number of times from time to time. Then store it someplace. We put ours in gallon zip lock bags and put them in our freezer.
        This may sound like a lot of work, but from our 12 foot x 12 foot patch we got about 6 or 8 gallons of wheat berries.
        You could Google “harvesting wheat by hand”. You will get a history of how it was done in the past and get a lot of ideas.
        Don

  37. julie gutierrez says:

    i noticed eggs were a dollar the week of thanksgiving.a week later the same eggs at the same store were 1.89 . the price of gas was 2.88 last week.today it was 3.19 only bought 5 gals. i see foodstamp people buying frozen meals pizza and other junk food .if you are poor and out work why not make real meals.the government is nuts giving school kids three meals in some cases,one thing poor people have is time so use your foodstamps and pack a lunch for your kids or have the government reduce your alotted foodstamps to cover the cost of those free lunches we all pay for.the argument is that it’s the only meals kids get,not feeding your kids is child abuse so ,why not go after the parents.sorry for going on and on but we all have to be responsible for our own families.

  38. Alan in Florida says:

    Julie, the eqqs at a $1 are what is known as a “loss leader”. Every week, most every supermarket will run loss leaders in hopes of bringing you into that store to do all your shopping. Chain Drug Stores have loss leaders also but theirs are generally not as deeply discounted. Smart shoppers purchase all usable “loss leaders” from all the stores in their area (considering fuel and time costs) and become what is called a “cherry picker” in the retail business. The bulk of purchases will be made at the store deemed to be the local price leader, assuming price is the driving force.

    Private Label information: Retailers who have private label products generally have two labels for an item. Some have three. Generally the Top private label is targeted at The national brand identified as their “competitor”. The second (and less expensive private label) will definately be toothsome, wholesome and may well be gradeable as Grade A. Most all of the canned vegetables, fruits and non-processed foods are packed by national brand companies utilizing labels provided to them by the Supermarket chain. These come from the same fields and orchards as national brands. Generally, store brands can save you serious money as you provide nutritional food for your family.

    Some foods have standards set forth by FDA. As example: To be labeled as Peanut Butter a brand must meet the standard. This is why you may find a label in the Peanut Butter section labelled as Peanut Spread which will definitely be of lower quality than Butter. It is necessary to read ingredient information on the label. The Government listing of Fats, Fiber, Sugars, etc, tells just a part of the information needed.

    Private Label food processors “target” specific brands as their quality standard and hold blind tasting panels to monitor their production. Products must be equal or better than their identified national brand target. Such a panel evaluating coffee or tea will be commonly referred to as a “cupping”. In addition to taste panels, products such as Catsup will be poured on a slopeing panel of stainless steel to see and measure how it separates as the liquid pulls away from the solids on its down hill slide.

    America has a remarkable food production and distribution system. It is dishearting to see it begin to slip. Manufacturing companies are struggling to deal with the mess government has created as are we.

  39. Collin Eagle says:

    Toilet paper has shrunk by about a inch in width. this happened early last year. i had some previously purchased Northern and noticed a difference when I put some next to older purchased tissue. I measured it and took it to the store and compared and ALL the tissue is the same width now, brand name and generic. Saved the manufacturers a ton of money and the price is going up. Same goes for potato chips, smaller amount of product same or higher price. The comment about tuna is right on, it used to be 8oz cans now their 5 or 6 oz cans. Very sutle changes but this is what manufacturers are doing to absorb the higher commodity costs. Instead of hiking prices, they make the product smaller. Pretty soon as Mr. Beck stated this won’t work and the real price hike will start being implemented. I wouldn’t be surprised if gas starts being sold by the liter.

    • peteFL says:

      Here’s another part of the pricing/quality story many are not familiar with. Spot price of milk is lower in spring than fall and winter. It was a simple supply and demand situation when milk produced in the spring exceeded sales and less than the market needed in fall and winter. To help promote consumer buying “June is dairy month” was created.
      When I began managing our family farm in the mid 1950′s consumer price followed the same price pattern. Lower in spring and summer and higher in fall and winter. Spring fluid milk sales rose and fall sales fell. In addition the dairy industry was accused of manipulating consumer prices when it was a result of supply/demand economics.
      Several times during political elections in New York, where my farm is, the industry was accused of price fixing by politicians running for office. I was elected by my cooperative members to represent them on the Cooperative board of directors. I have seen the volumes of paper we had to ship to the attorney general to prove our innocence. This required hundreds of extra labor hours and resulted in one and sometimes two truckloads of paper.
      When spring and summer milk prices increased in the fall, consumers were not happy and sales volumes fell. To change this we deducted some money from our member milk checks and returned it with interest in the fall. This helped stabilize the price both to the farmer and consumer. The situation has changed since larger farms are better able to manage breeding and calving schedules. We try to breed cows 60 days after their last calf so they will calve during higher farm milk price periods. Prices rise when school starts, more milk is required than is produced. It takes about 3 weeks to a month before a cow reaches maximum production so we try to have cows calve in July and August after having been bred the preceding October and November.
      Those who purchase fresh fruits and vegetables probably notice similar price changes. The early harvest produce is priced higher than at the end of harvest. Demand is high when it first “hits the markets” and drops off near the end of harvest.
      Alan has described marketing very well and I hope my remarks show how supply/demand affects the producer and influences farm management.
      Happy New Year to all.
      Pete

  40. peteFL says:

    The first corection in the above post should be “pricing/quantity”. I cannot find a way to edit a post once submitted. Stuff happens :-)

  41. Barbara says:

    In addition to the lessons learned by looking more closely at prices to track them , I am grstified at the knowledge offered by the postings here. I am becoming much more informed about things I never knew existed regarding pricing and production.

    I did see one example of a generic being produced at the Libby’s plant where I worked two college summer vacations. They would run the same tomatoes through the same process and just change the labels in the label machines….Nothing else changed! Instead of Libby’s tomato juice, the label was a generic brand.

    I have to say that the toilet paper downsizing is nasty. I thought we were picking up the wrong brand by mistake and then realized all the rolls are smaller.

  42. Barbara says:

    Did you notice the increases in this week’s report of price data? Are you all thinking this is the beginning of a very bad run up in prices? That is what I am worried about. When I see gasoline hiking..and so many grocery and paper items increasing so quickly, I am especially concerned for those on the verge of not being able to make it already.

    By jacking up the prices of energy….and adding insult to injury by using our money to subsidize ethanol which makes our groceries more expensive…we are paying for the rope they are using to hang us! That is a nasty comparison, but the only one that comes to mind because I am so disgusted with our Congress’s policies.

  43. peteFL says:

    I agree and now is the time to watch the new crew very closely to see if they intend to repeal/reject some of the actions of the previous Congress. The Tea Party can continue to be important as long as we remain strong and active.
    Pete

  44. Alan in Florida says:

    This is getting funny! So I feel I must enter the toilet paper wars! I did a small survey of my family and found all basically used the center of the sheet for intended results; therefore, trimming a roll down to about 4″ wide gives you a margin of error of approximately 1 1/2″ on the left and on the right which should be adequate for most normal people. We Americans are very much used to our luxuries as most of the people in the world do not use toilet paper; and most of those who do, use TP which has some close relationship to sand paper (To be prepared for what is coming to America, google Squat Toilets and follow a few links. – Expand your mind and learn what your left hand is really for!)

    Reducing a roll width to 4″ allowed manufacturers to avoid a 10 – 15% price increase at wholesale which would be even greater after retail markup. So, take your choice; actually the choice was made for you as manufactures struggle to deal with this governmental disaster looming.

    Lets get to the real situation as consumers strive to get the best deal on TP. Of greater concern is the “number of sheets” on a roll, and how many sheets (of a specific brand) are needed to do the job intended. This is really complicated by the addition of Double, Triple, Jumbo, Quad, etc, rolls to the product line. These BIG rolls helped to reduce cost and was one of the early moves made to keep prices down. Each manufacturer has their own nomenclature for their various rolls so some real detective work is needed in the quest for “the best deal”. A calculator is invaluable as you try to sort this out. Your job is much easer if you have determined that a specific brand is the softness, etc, required by your body. If you are buying by price as we do, the analysis is even more difficult. It takes a little time to prepare a buying guide but once it is worked out it is only necessary to check to make certain the sheet count has not changed from purchased to purchase.

    My buying guide works out to the basic question: How much is the Single Roll Equivalent for Each Brand. Only if we are out of TP will we pay more than a quarter per single roll equivalent. The last purchased figured to be right at twenty-three cents/single roll for Northern. Must be soft for my wife – I use Sears and Roebucks catalogs when I can find them – HaHa.

    Same analysis applies to Paper Towels, Napkins and other consumer goods as number of sheets, ounces, etc are what count!

    YOU ARE NOT ARMED TO DO BATTLE AT THE GROCERY WHEN YOU SHOP WITHOUT A CALCULATOR!!!

    • J Warren says:

      The contribution called “YOU ARE NOT ARMED TO DO BATTLE AT THE GROCERY WHEN YOU SHOP WITHOUT A CALCULATOR!!!” Was terrific, thank you. I have only this to add – if you carry a mobile phone you DO have a calculator albeit you might have to dig in its apps to find it. I litterally had to show my wife who loves her phone that it did indeed have a calculator and once she got used to rocking the outside ring to get it to do whatever functiona nd press the center to get the result, she took to it like a duck to water. Happy New Year, y’all!

  45. Are you noticing the narrower WIDTHS in bathroom tissue? They used to go from one side of the toilet paper roll holder to the other. They’ve lost nearly 3/4″ in width! I’m waiting for the paper towels to do the same.

  46. Priscilla in VA says:

    I walked through a new Super Walmart this afternoon and was surprised at how many items were priced higher than local Food Lions. Perhaps F.Lion has lowered their prices in order to compete, but it is a boon for me, as that is where I usually shop. I noted several products that had reduced their sizes, esp. things like granola bars and snack sized items for lunches, etc. Also noticed smaller cat food cans and lower weights in litter containers. Gas is up to 2.97 a gal.

  47. Alan in Florida says:

    All the negative comments about downsizing being “deceptive packaging” makes me a little crazy as it smacks of a “Victim Mentality” which I abhor. We are used to living in a country and a state of stability. Our world is changing more rapidly than most of us know or want to acknowledge. We grew up in an era when a half-gallon looking container was 64oz. That is no longer true as we no longer live in such a world. We are beginning to wakeup and realize we must “shop” for our needs as does the balance of those living on this orb.
    Yes, there is deceptive packing but simply downsizing a product is not deceptive, it is there on the label. ADDing a banner to a product label to hide a reduced product level IS deceptive.
    Continual Short filling less than is stated on the label is deceptive and criminal in the minds of many. The only example that comes to mind is Bryers Ice Cream which has been downsized to 48oz packed in what most of us would say “looks like a half-gallon” (it isn’t and wouldn’t hold a half-gallon). My wife is an addict when it comes to sweets so “best deal” ice cream is purchased every week. I have determined this brand is seriously lacking in quantity quality control. I have called their Customer Service three times within the past year, been told my observations would be passed on to the proper persons, received coupons – but, nothing changed. I estimate 90% of their containers are short 3 to 5oz each. For each 10,000 cartons which average 3oz short approximately 6% more cartons can be filled.

    Note: Tropicana Premium Orange Juice is now 59oz. Again, The private label (store brand) most likely will remain 64oz for a while.

  48. peteFL says:

    I’m not sure of the law in Florida but In New York State, reports to the Department of Ag and Markets usually brings the power of the Attorney General into play as a last resort and companies are informed of complaints as well as point of sale spot checks. In the milk business, shortages are fined and it is pretty expensive for the processor to short fill containers. You may find an answer for an online form to file a complaint at http://www.800helpfla.com/complnt.html .

  49. Alan in Florida says:

    The price of gas is important to all. So the gas reports are of interest as is home heating oil. In my part of Florida we have only electricity with most using a heat pump for cooling/heating. Before Global Warming, Heating used to be considered of little importance and many homes had (have) no heat except for space heaters. Little extra added!
    Since this is a “food show” we should take note of the Diesel fuel price. Diesel fuel and Home Heating Oil is fractionated from the same part of the oil. Well, homes are heated with oil and few of us drive diesel vehicles so what’s the big deal, you might ask.
    Glad you did! Diesel fuel is what the trucks and trains which deliver our food to warehouses and supermarkets use to move ‘em down the road. Truckers go out of business when fuel costs grow too high. Fuel cost is a huge expense to providing us our foodstuffs. I don’t even want to think about when the fuel runs out. We must demand our Oil companies be allowed to drill for American oil. (As well as clean coal, nuclear, natural gas, and yes that green stuff.) The DoE and Congress has had their jackboot on the neck of energy for far too long and we are seeing the results at our filling stations.

  50. Priscilla in VA says:

    I do not think that it is neccesarily deceptive when companies reduce the sizes of their products, but there are several points regarding this practice that the general public needs to be alerted about. The probability of most consumers noticing new variations in packaging is much less than those of us who are participating in the COLA “scrunity.” For example: some bulk packages at Sams that hold multiple smaller items have the same exterior size boxes and contain the same number of items, while the overall weight is lower and the cost is approximately the same as the former heavier product. There are often a few grams less in generic brand cans of the exact same size as major brand products. Labels change the information while packaging remains the same…and on and on…
    While I am slowly and laboriously comparing all these prices and weights I see the harried mom with 3 children whining for their favorite cereal, etc., trying to get the shopping done and leave with some sanity intact. She doesn’t know what is happening in the industry and will not know how to shop more wisely unless someone alerts her. Isn’t this what we are all about?

  51. J warren says:

    “Buyer Beware” is the lore of our land. I’ve long since put my attention on what things are and as they exist in present time. However I very much appreciate the Cost of Living Adjustment Project for one very good living. If you put the numbers for for total food items in one column every week and the cost of milk and gas in their own column and the bottom line in an Excel or Open Source data base widget you get to see it continuosly get to be a bigger number EVERY week. Not every month not every year ad to heck with the fed’s CPI smoke and mirrors because I don’t know about your, but the cost of Energy represents today’s Gold and because of its primary use – it reflects the canary in the mines we have miss-named FOOD. Small raises in the cost of oil directly convert the significant increases in the coas of food. Period.
    All these discussion are wonderfully informative or disruptive depending on the intent of those whom input – but the bottom line which totals weekly and monthly food and fuel prices is the core and most valuable in this forum of what truly and really counts, far as I can see.
    Thanks for all y’all’s contributions!

  52. Vanessa says:

    I notice that along with shrinking sizes and higher prices, I am having trouble finding simple cleaning tools like borax and washing soda, things that are basic to home made washing solutions… kinda makes me wonder…

  53. Alan in Florida says:

    Pete, thanks for your comment on Fl agr department regarding Bryer Ice Cream. I have such a distaste for involvement with the government bureaucracy that I avoid it to the max. I have had great hope that the fill level complaints would get to the correct people and the shortage corrected. I have certainly given them enough time to correct the problem. I will consider getting my feet muddy by contacting the government.

    • peteFL says:

      I know from personal experience that processors bend over backward to keep customers happy. Several years ago I was in SMH for some cardiac surgery and the milk had a definite “off flavor”. I wrote to the quality control department of the processor to alert them. Since I was in the milk business for over 30 years I know that customer complaints must be followed up. In my case it helped because I cited my experience with our own flavor testing program and suggested they might have an air leak in the raw milk line and that turned out to be accurate.

      I made it plain I expected no refund or coupons but knew how important early quality problems were to the Quality Control manager. I received a nice letter of thanks from him thanking me for the notice and I was pleased they found the problem before it caused a major customer problem.

      I really get upset when people blame the store and stop buying the product. If you found a problem there were probably others who simply would not purchase the product again. I’m more interested in problem solving through normal contact than getting everyone all excited. The last thing any processor wants is an unhappy customer. Complaints to a store sometimes get lost in the bureauacy. It’s better to start with the processor.

      Those of us who have been involved in corporate management know that if you go the the top of the organization with your information, things begin to happen within the company. When the boss asks questions actions are taken. It works every time.
      Pete

      • Alan in Florida says:

        Pete, I concur. When I ran a multi-product food processing plant (ice cream products were not under my responsibility but handled by an associate with whom I brain stormed several days a week) we required Cust Service to provide a daily synopsis of any and all product complaints. Production was immediately addressed and followed up by QC.

        A problem should go straight to the 800 number on most packages for corrective action. A complain at store level is a waste of time for the consumer and store personal as it gets lost.

        There is simply no excuse for no apparent corrective action manifesting itself in the package opened in my kitchen after three tries spread over about a year.

        • Pauline Schaefer says:

          As of today’s date 3/2/11 out gasoline is now at $ 3.63/gal. as of friday 2/25 the gas has gone up 27 cents. I do not think that the gas will only go up to $4.00/gas by Spring. How about $5.00/gal?

          • BARBARA says:

            I remember gas lines in the Carter years..now we have even worse mismanagement of our energy policy.

            Everyone will be paying these prices…liberal and conservative. But this is one that can’t be blamed on Bush.

            Are you in CA? The highest prices in our survey all come from CA.

  54. granel says:

    Gasoline today is $2.93 for regular unleaded. Bought groceries at Target, Land-O-Lakes Butter sticks $4.39, Land-O-Lakes whipped butter in a tub $1.99, generic eggs $1.49, bananas $.46 per lb., Natures Own White Wheat Bread large loaf $2.39, Starkist Tuna $.99 small can, Ziploc quart freezer bags – 40 ct. $3.59. Shopped Krogers Oscar Mayer Piclkle Pimento Loaf $3.89, Smucker Jam 18 oz. jar $3.19. Cokes have really gone up – 12 pk. cans $4.59. Not too long ago you could get them for 3 pks $10.00. The cokes jumped up when the federal government decided to punish us for drinking sweetened drinks by putting their own tax on them. I did find at Target generic 100 watt light regular not the spiral bulbs four pk. $.89. These bulbs are made in mexico. Is anyone else trying to not buy “made in china”? I hardly drive anymore and when I do go out I combine errands into one trip. I map out my trip and just make a circle, I try to not backtrack. Everyone have a good day and hang in there, we will get through this. It is my hope to have a new government in 2013. A government by the pople and for the people is what I look forward to.

  55. granel says:

    And I shop at Sam’s club where I believe I save money by buying in bulk.

  56. Sandra Marr says:

    While I know that we are all checking food prices, the newspaper today is talking about the price of heating oil. In my area of Elizabethtown PA, many are asking for help to pay for heating. Our entire street however has nothing but electric. The gas lines stop on the other side of the feeder creek. It doesn’t matter which type of power you are using for heat however. It is all very very high. We keep our thermostat at 68 steady, and have a thermal heat pump. A bill of $300 a month is normal here, and with the cold streaming in, the next bill will be higher. We are 10 miles from 3 mile Island, So much for Nuke power being a help.

  57. Barbara Samuells says:

    The COLA survey data we posted today shows some extreme increases in the items you have beem checking. Comparing the week ended Jan. 18, 2011 with the week ended Dec. 21, 2010, there is a 4.1% overall increase, with the biggest increases in flour and in American cheese.

    We will see if these increases are a fluke or will hold in the upcoming weeks. At 3.08 national average for gasloline, we would expect that to go up significantly each week for a long time.

  58. Carol says:

    I might suggest that you do your pricing information by unit price as I was unable to find the exact oz sizes for comparison. It was to hard to determine what I was actually trying to price. Or have a space to fill in brand and size and your program could then compute the actual prices.

  59. peteFL says:

    I agree and have mine posted at “How do you find best value prices” on the senior chat forum.

    Pete

  60. Sandra Marr says:

    It is difficult to stock up on food for longer term storage, when the (best if used by date), isn’t very far out. In spite of checking from the back of the shelf and looking for the date, the date still isn’t far enough out to keep for long storage. This makes me question if the stocked items by the store are in shorter supply. I don’t know why this is happening, but it troubles me to know that what I am trying to keep on hand just isn’t enough in case of a long term need arrives. I also remember the stories going around about the government stashing food for use in case of a national emergency. That was in the 50′s-60′s. I haven’t heard anything about that in recent years, but surely there is plenty of food stored away to keep the government running, and the elite fed.
    The price of peppers right now, is just insane. The $4.99 per pound price just isn’t something I would pay anytime for this item. I will start my indoor garden in mid-Feb and that will contain lettuce as the first crop.
    You can buy seeds for your garden on-line, and get a much better price right now. I note that the price of seeds in packages which are sold at the store, have gone way up in price. I started growing veggies in pots last year, and we are still eating from what I was able to grow and freeze. Doing this involves lots of work, but the rewards are many. Since I grew peppers last year, I can pass up the ones in the store, and just shake my head as I pass by.

  61. peteFL says:

    To be honost about sell by dates I have to say that in the case of canned goods I simply disregard the pull date and if the can is in good condition and has no dents or buldges the contents should be OK. I home pressure can meals, veggies, and fruits each year. Recently I found a case with a mixture of the above. We had some for meals last week. The only cautions I take are to make sure there is still a vacuum when the lid is removed, the contents don’t show any obvious deterioration, and when it is a pan on the stove, I bring it to a boil and simmer for at least 5 minutes.
    What about quality? if there is a decrease in flavor but the contents meet the above conditions I feel they are fine depending on how hungry you are. I was in the milk business most of my adult life. New York City unions were successful to get a 4 day pull date for bottled milk. Why? The ruling required that the out of date milk had to be returned to the bottling plant in a separtate truck. Reason? Jobs for those maning the return trucks. Our lab pulled samples of each day’s production and the actual self life of the milk was a minimum of 11 days. Anything short of that time told us we had some kind of a quality problem that caused a flavor deterioration and the quality lab went into high gear in addition to their regular testing.
    If you are putting food in storage for emergency use, as we did each year for snow storms in upstate NY and now in Florida for hurricanes, it’s a good idea to work supplies into your regular meal plans and restock with new product. Above all if there is any question about the conditions I require for our products, I would throw them in the garbage. Most pull dates are designed to expire before there is any reduction in quality so you have to use your own judgement. If you are storing quantities of evaporated or condensed cans of milk, they should be turned upside down once a month to prevent separation.
    You’ll find many who say my parameters for our family are too wide but after almost 8 decades of living on home canned and frozen foods still looking at grass from the top, something must be right with our methods.

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  63. Lynda says:

    Recently I have traveled within my state and noticed prices of many of the items we are tracking. In the small working class towns, they are usually lower. In the tourist areas, they are much higher, and in the larger cities, prices may be higher in the poorest of neighborhoods but more moderate in the upper middle class (not rich) areas where there is more competition. This project has made me more aware of prices in general, so even if the results may be skewed due to faulty reporting, it has been a worthwhile effort for me.

  64. Sandra Marr says:

    High prices for food and all goods are reflected in the ticket price for everything we buy, as vendors raise their prices in order to cover the cost of shipping. Don’t be fooled into believing that this trend will be over any time soon. It won’t. Keep your pantry stocked, and don’t forget to stock water, batteries, and all things you depend upon in your every day needs. Get in survival mode. I know everyone is watching the news, so take care to make sure you don’t get caught off guard.

  65. In Louisiana says:

    Gasoline is $2.91 as of the other day at Raceway, Shreveport, LA. I got an email yesterday that these get oil from the MIDDLE EAST:
    SHELL, CHEVRON/TEXACO, EXXON/MOBIL, MARATHON/SPEEDWAY, AMOCO.
    and CITCO from Venezuela where Hugo Chevez hates us!

    However: these use 100% AMERICAN OIL:
    SUNOCO, CONOCO, SINCLAIR, HESS, ARCO, FLYING J, VALERO, KWIK FILL, MURPHY OIL.

    Not sure who makes our Raceway, but will ask them…

  66. Sandra Marr says:

    I priced the gas at HESS this week, and posted it on my survey list. It was 315.9. Higher than any other gas, but I suppose with USA not being able to drill our own oil, anymore, it makes the gas price higher in the USA.

  67. In Louisiana says:

    Good news is I read this week that U.S. drilling co.’s found a much, much better way to drill into vast shale deposits in TX, CO, CA, and a couple other western states, so they are going to persue that.

  68. Loretta says:

    I live in a very small town about two hours round trip away from any major shopping, so, I have to shop at the local gricery store which pretty much soaks us all with their pricing. However, round trip the two hours costs me a quarter of a tank of gas so I plan my major shopping trips about every couple of months. As I get older these trips are becoming more and more difficult to make so I watch the sale ads here in town very closely. There isn’t really much of an answer to my situation that I can think of.

  69. In Louisiana says:

    The only thing I can think of is to compare the price of living in the bigger city, with it’s prices of housing, utilities, and property tax (maybe city and county). So then you find that you really are saving money in the small town. We recently moved (retired) from KY, then CA where our son used to be, to Louisiana. And we found these sites interesting:
    http://www.bestplaces.net
    http://www.city-data.com
    http://www.coli.org

  70. Sandy says:

    I actually noticed the Cover Girl Professional mascara I buy at Walmart, changed from 3.2 oz ~ or some number, to 2.3 oz. Same price. AND, our microwave popcorn used to fill a large mixing bowl, now we are lucky if we get two little bowls out of a regular envelope ~ doesn’t matter what brand, they all do it.. very sad.

  71. Dan Lynn says:

    We are already seeing $4.00 a gallon gas in Chicago

  72. Sandra says:

    I would like to see peanut butter, coffee and vegetable oil added to the COLA grocery list.

  73. kdonat says:

    Walmart gas (Murphy Oil) was 3.399 last Sat, went down to 3.359 on Mon, and back up today (Wed.) to 3.399. The majority of other brands are holding around 3.399 as well. We are in the St. Petersburg/Pinellas Park, FL area.

    • BARBARA says:

      I may have to find a Walmart with a gas station. We know the trouble in the Middle east is pushing this and our government’s energy policies were a
      bad start to build from.

  74. Pauline Schaefer says:

    Last night went to Albany , NY to visit family and noticed the gas prices in Clifton Park were $3.74.9 yet I live in Middleburgh, NY and our gas prices are 3.69/gal. Yellow squash at Walmart in Cobleskill is $2.98/squash. Cannot wait until May 15th when we can plant our veg. garden.

  75. peteFL says:

    Hi Pauline,
    I was a dairy farmer from Cobleskill [Lawyersville on Schuyler Rd] and my wife was office manager at Cobleskill Welding before we were married in 1992. We now live in Sarasota, FL. I was a kid when Rt 20 was built, and a member of the Cobleskill Town Planning Board when I-88 was planned. Yes, we’re descendants of Gen. Philip Schuyler of the Revolutionary War.

  76. Jim says:

    Each summer I visit my daughter and son-in-law in Michigan. They live on a small farm. Although they have town jobs, they raise all their own vegetables, beef, pork, chickens, turkeys, eggs, etc. It’s a lot of hard work, but the taste of the food is unbelievable. This return to the past may well be our future. Small farms can be self-perpetuating.

  77. Ruth Anne Fernandez says:

    We paid for gasoline this past week in FL $3.57 a gallon. Other stations had higher prices.

  78. Loretta says:

    Just paid $4.09 a gallon for gas in Northern Ca.

  79. csmeagan says:

    I first noticed the smaller packaging trick years ago with girl scout cookies. Then my chocolate chip cookies and other products since. One of their more deceptive moves is to reduce the size or quantity of the good and reduce the price also. The aggregate price will have been increased but it appears to have been decreased.

  80. Loretta says:

    In less than a month gasoline here in northwestern California has gone from $4.09 gal. to $$4.55 per gallon, and summer and the tourist season isn’t even here yet!!

  81. peteFL1 says:

    Time for you to get hold of your environmental wacko legislators and remove the ridiculous cafe gasoline restrictions only California seems to need. These lead to short production runs and increased costs that Californians apparently are willing to pay. Form a group or join a Tea Party group and magnify your efforts.

  82. kdonat says:

    Gas today Apr 11 was 3.79 at Walmart, 3.78 at Race Trac. (St Petersburg/Pinellas Park FL) They are usually the two lowest in the area.

  83. With all the Qantitative Easment monkey business and the ratchet game on oil per barrel in the world, we threw in the towel on fuel and food and got made members of a community gardening group in our town and started another community garden in the town where we go to church to grow our own food. Enough is enough, we know a shell game when we are cheated by it and that is our conclusion, the fed bank system is playing a shell game and has been for some time.
    Worse, our own people are burning food (calling it bio fuel) and needing Uncle santa clause to subsidize it to add insult to injury.
    Is our government and country out of its collective mind?

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