FREE NEWSLETTER

Not Biting

Dennis Friedman

MY WIFE AND I GET together occasionally with our neighbors for a glass of wine. We became good friends with Larry and Kathryn since they moved into our neighborhood. They‘re retirees, just like us.

When visiting them, they often serve cheese and crackers. One day, Larry said to me, “Try one of these whole wheat crackers. They won’t hurt you. I can’t say the same thing about the cheese, though.” He knows I try to eat healthily.

After eating Triscuits at their house, I became hooked. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something I like about those crackers. Maybe it’s because they’re only made from three ingredients: whole grain wheat, canola oil and sea salt. My wife, however, won’t go near them.

But recently, I stopped buying Triscuits. Not because I don’t like them anymore. I’m just not willing to pay what the stores are charging. This year, the price of a 12.5-ounce box of Triscuit crackers has skyrocketed to more than $5. I’ve seen them selling for as much as $5.69 at the local supermarket.

There may be good reasons for the price increase. Higher gasoline prices, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine are contributing to rising grocery prices. But it seems like yesterday that I was paying under $4. Although the price has come down somewhat from its peak, I still refuse to pay the higher price. I feel like I’m being gouged.

I decided to switch to store-brand crackers that are cheaper. They have different ingredients. That’s probably one of the reasons they cost less. But I like them well enough to keep buying them.

Companies know people like me will buy an alternative product if they raise their prices too high. Instead of hiking prices, they sometimes shrink the size of the product instead. They call it shrinkflation. Companies do that to combat the rising cost of ingredients, while hoping you won’t notice the smaller size.

Powerade reduced the size of its 32-ounce drinks to 28 ounces, but stores continue to charge the same price. Cottonelle Ultra Clean Care toilet paper shrank the number of sheets per roll from 340 to 312, and didn’t drop the price. You see other manufacturers, including those that make paper towels, yogurt, snack bars and coffee, shrink the size of their product, while not lowering prices.

You also need to be on the lookout for companies that change to cheaper ingredients to save money. I doubt you’ll see that happening with Triscuits since there are only three ingredients. I’m always leery of products that say “new and improved,” unless they specify what exactly they changed.

Mondelez International, which makes Triscuit crackers and Oreo cookies, reported its second-quarter results on July 26. “Our second quarter and first half results were marked by strong top and bottom-line performance across all regions and categories, supporting the raising of our full-year revenue growth outlook,” said Dirk Van de Put, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our chocolate and biscuit businesses continue to demonstrate strong volume growth and pricing resilience across both developed and emerging markets.”

Based on Mondelez’s strong second-quarter performance, it looks like a lot of people are willing to pay the higher price for its Triscuit crackers and other products. Not me. I’m sticking to my store-brand crackers.

Browse the Blog

Subscribe
Notify of
19 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
alex scott
alex scott
17 days ago

i feel your pain. went shopping, hungry, got vienna fingers cookies w/o looking at the price. got them home and popped them open. as good and decadent as i remember…BUT the plastic insert was reconfigured to be niggardly in its offerings. more space than product and then i looked at the price. $6+ at walmart! fool me once…still have not found a replacement for my beloved cracked pepper triscuits. like you, just aint gonna do it.

GaryW
GaryW
17 days ago

Wegmans has the 12.5-ounce original Triscuit for $3.99. The 8.5-ounce size is only slightly less, $3.49. The Wegmans brand equivalent is $2.49 for 8.5 ounces.

Rick Thompson
Rick Thompson
18 days ago

We switched to bite-size shredded wheat years ago in our quest to limit oil and salt as part of our plant-based diet. Currently we use Wegmans brand, with the 16.4 oz. box priced at $1.79. They are great with with our homemade humus.

Martin McCue
Martin McCue
18 days ago

Want to drive yourself crazy, but make yourself more frugal in the process? Calculate the cost in more detail. Do you get 25 slices of bread for $4? That’s 16 cents for each slice! Cracker bags look big but only weigh about 7 ounces. At $3.50 a bag, that’s 50 cents an ounce! Prepared foods are even worse. Yummy banana bread? 8 slices for $4? You do the math. 50 cents a slice. And soft drinks and cereals have really jumped recently, using this costing method.

Jon Daley
Jon Daley
18 days ago

The deodorant I’ve used for 30 years changed it’s packaging, proclaimed new and improved and the “made in the USA” label was removed and I’m now allergic to it. (I didn’t pay any attention to the changes until after I got the rash).

I’ve talked to the company and they insist nothing changed, but did pay for my doctor’s visit, though refused to pay for follow-up dermatologist visits saying that sometimes people change and react differently than they used to.

I happened to find an old version and it was fine on my skin.

I don’t know if they are malicious or just don’t know that their company made a change.

Newsboy
Newsboy
18 days ago

Coffee/1 Lb – whole bean variety. Average retail price per oz up close to 50% year-over-year – what’s a caffeine addict going to do? Tea is a poor substitute and also not cheap in the current inflation environment. Alas, my wife’s “energy drink” with infused caffeine is an option, assuming I can stomach “berry blast” or orange flavors at 5 am. First world problems…

Mark Royer
Mark Royer
18 days ago
Reply to  Newsboy

I noticed that too. So I dilute the “good stuff” which is up in price with some basic Maxwell House that I get at Walmart, cheaper than at the local grocery. I put the good stuff in first so I still smell it when it brews, and the taste is about the same. Not sure what I will do next if we get more “inflation reduction” bills that throw more gas on the fire.

alex scott
alex scott
17 days ago
Reply to  Mark Royer

speaking of dilution, i get whole milk and cut it in 1/2 with brita water…

Jerry Pinkard
Jerry Pinkard
18 days ago

I do most of our grocery shopping. I may not notice a slight price increase, but many things we buy have gone up 20% to 30% this year. There are not good alternatives to many of these. I feel like many companies are raising their prices because they can get away with it now. It is part of the psychology of inflation.

Mik Cajon
Mik Cajon
19 days ago

Our inflation problem is self-inflicted…the world runs on cheap energy…whatever the source.

alex scott
alex scott
17 days ago
Reply to  Mik Cajon

cheap energy has been weaponized and ‘clean energy’ is decades out.
we have screwed the pooch; as much as i find the expression distasteful.

mjflack
mjflack
20 days ago

Much like yourself, I love to eat Triscuits, but not to pay for them. So I recommend you get yourself to the nearest Aldi and buy some “Savoritz Woven Whole Wheat Crackers” or as they’re called in our household “German Triscuits”. They run about $1.50 for a 12.5 oz box.

alex scott
alex scott
17 days ago
Reply to  mjflack

had aldi in the midwest. stuck now in the ONCE LOVELY
state of colo…

Arnold Hold
Arnold Hold
20 days ago

Interesting article and good for a laugh. Liked your point about migrating to store brands, for most products it is fine and costs less.

Richard Amerman
Richard Amerman
20 days ago

A good substitute for Triscuits is a store brand bite sized shredded wheat with a touch of salt. $2.00 for 16 ounces. Contents Wheat with mixed tocopherols (vitamin e) as a preservative.

Joey
Joey
20 days ago

Good comments about shrinkflation. That is why consumers generally should should disregard the price of an item itself and focus on the unit cost for an item. (In the Powerade example: $/ounce)

Kam McHugh
Kam McHugh
20 days ago

Your health will be better off without those processed foods. Save money on food and save money on healthcare – win win!

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
20 days ago

Great article Dennis. We all have to draw our lines in the sand. Looks like you drew yours.

Randy Dobkin
Randy Dobkin
20 days ago

Good! Stay away from canola and other omega-6 oils.

Free Newsletter

SHARE