Honey, I shrunk the crisps

I used to think that the shrinking of crisp packets was a part of growing up; my hands getting bigger or something. However, the reality is far scarier than adolescence (but only just).

Finding a balance between increasing commodity prices and customer satisfaction is a tough task, and many companies are going through this right now. The downside is that many companies aren’t making a meal out of announcing the shrinking of packaging and contents, so many consumers are none the wiser. It’s arguably a better strategy than increasing your price, which us thrift wise consumers notice almost straight away.

What’s ethically challenging is the combining of both, when product size decreases and the price goes up. Let’s not name names here, but let’s consider a possible future, when a packet of crisps feels like it’s empty, yet costs an arm and a leg.

I bought a bag of crisps for £1 the other day (a criminal amount), yet the content was less than I remember when I was a nipper (I have a vague recollection of 35g being the norm).

So, growing up has a lot to answer for, such as bigger hands, bigger appetite and the loss of my rose-tinted glasses. Fortunately, I have a keen eye for price increases, as do my fellow shoppers. It’s the shrinkage we need to keep an eye on.


Michael Mascha on Today

I’d like to share with you an interesting video clip from a recent Today Show segment, which featured Michael Mascha being ‘interviewed’ by presenters Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford.

Michael is publisher of the FineWaters website and author of a book called, unsurprisingly, Fine Waters. He’s what you would call a connoisseur of bottled water, so it’s really no surprise that he should show up on one of TV’s most popular breakfast shows to promote his book.

However, Kotb and Lee Gifford had fewer serious ideas about how the segment should run, as you can see from the clip. I spoke briefly with my colleague Nayl D’Souza – editor of Water Innovation – about the presenters’ approach to the piece, and whether the water industry at large needs this sort of publicity.

What are your thoughts? Is the old adage of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ relevant in this case?

The BFJA Annual Symposium

The British Fruit Juice Association (BFJA) Annual Symposium took place last month (5 June 2008) with the theme of sustainability high on the agenda. FoodBev.com is pleased to be able to present a short series of podcasts featuring two of the speakers at the event.

The first download is an introduction to the symposium by Jill Ardagh, the Director General of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA). Mark Rhodes is Director of Corporate Environment, Health & Safety at GlaxoSmithKline. His talk, entitled ‘Adaptation or Extinction’, is available to download in two parts.

    Jonathon Porritt CBE is the Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, and is co-founder and Programme Director of Forum for the Future.

    All BFJA podcasts can be downloaded at the following link.

    Congratulations to the Zenith footy team

    The Zenith International squad
    The Zenith International squad

    Against the hopeful wishes of my Grandad, I’m actually a Liverpool FC supporter (he worships Everton, our neighbours in blue). So, when I received an email recently about the 5-a-side football tournament in Manchester, in which Zenith International fielded a talented team, I was impressed by the calibre of some of the opposition.

    One such player, a certain Dean Saunders, used to play for Liverpool in the early 90s, and I saw him play a few times. It’s with no shame that the Zenith team failed to go any further than the last 16 in the 5-a-side competition with players like Saunders running around (even though he’s probably 104 years old).

    All credit to them. Next year, I may follow the team up north to offer my support (and perhaps blag an autograph or two from any ‘retired’ ex-Reds).

    food&drink towers media party

    Last night’s food&drink towers media party at Theodore Bullfrog in London was, for me at least, a refreshing departure from the uncompromising bombardment of sometimes irrelevant PR.

    The idea is that a small group of companies come together to display their wares to an invited audience of journalists. To the delight of many of my colleagues at the event, the absence of any obvious PR companies was refreshing, and the token handouts didn’t detract from our sense of relief.

    It was good to actually meet the people who run these companies, and hear from the horses’ mouths about the products they’re producing. There’s a sense of passion and enthusiasm you often don’t get when you filter your business concept via an agency.

    RDA Organic – a recent finalist for Best New Functional Drink at the Beverage Innovation Awards in Moscow – showed off a new product that contains Evesse apples, and I was more than happy to taste Antony Worrall Thompson’s croutons and Wyke Farms’ cheese (which, as it happens, tasted sublime washed down by a fantastic Sauvignon from wineSight).

    I think Helen Lewis, who runs food&drink towers, should be congratulated for being creative and forward-thinking. This event is what public relations should be about: the client, not the agency representing them.

    This is Shaun Weston's blog.