groceryWalletPop has reported about the incredible shrinking contents movement of the past two years, as companies reduce the amount of food in familiar packages in an attempt to trim costs while still providing the illusion of value. Thankfully, we're beginning to see the trend reverse as manufacturers seek a competitive advantage on the grocery shelf.

The Consumerist reported recently about Mission Soft Flour Tortillas, which added two tortillas to its 10-pack and changed the packaging to brag about the added value. It didn't mention that it had removed two tortillas from this size package a year before. This reminds me of a 'buddy' who, when he repays the money he owes you, acts like he's giving you a gift.

Expect to see a tidal wave of such claims of beneficence in the near future if the price of food ingredients continues to fall in response to cheaper oil and a good harvest. Most aggravating, to me, will be the packaging that claims the company is giving me extra portions "free".

Advertising Age blames, in part, WalMart for the new packaging hucksterism. It reports that the mega-retailer had, until 2002, refused to allow retailers to use the word 'free' on bonus packages. They have since relented, however, and now there are no longer any checks except shame on the manufacturer's package claims.

For my money, nothing should be called "free" if you have to pay something to get it. It's enough to tell me I'm getting more product for the same money; don't insult me by pretending it's a gift.

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