Have orange juice containers gotten smaller?

Orange juice is a breakfast staple for many people. The refreshing taste and vitamin C content make it a go-to morning beverage. But if you’ve been buying orange juice for years, you may have noticed something – the containers seem to keep getting smaller.

This phenomenon is known as “shrinkflation.” Manufacturers subtly decrease package sizes over time while keeping prices the same. They hope consumers won’t notice the downsizing. For orange juice, this trend has been going on for decades.

Let’s take a closer look at how orange juice container sizes have changed over the years. We’ll examine data on various popular orange juice brands and packaging types. You may be surprised at how much less juice you’re getting compared to previous decades.

Background on Orange Juice Packaging

First, some background on typical orange juice packaging types:

  • Cartons: This includes gable-top paper cartons, as well as plastic cartons like Tropicana’s familiar chug-style bottles. Cartons are available in common sizes like 64 oz (half gallon), 59 oz, 48 oz, and 32 oz.
  • Bottles: Plastic orange juice bottles were more common in the 20th century. Popular sizes were 64 oz (half gallon), 48 oz, and 32 oz. Bottles allow seeing the juice inside.
  • Cans: Aluminum cans hold frozen concentrated orange juice. Common sizes are 12 oz and 6 oz.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on gable-top cartons and plastic bottles. Cans of frozen juice require water to be added so it’s not an equal comparison.

Orange Juice Container Sizes Over the Years

Now let’s look at how major orange juice brands have reduced container sizes over the past several decades:

Tropicana 64 oz Carton

Year Volume
1970s 64 oz
1980s 64 oz
1990s 64 oz
2000s 59 oz
2010s 59 oz

Tropicana’s familiar large cartons were consistently 64 ounces through the 1990s. But sometime in the 2000s, they downsized to 59 ounces while still labeling it a “half gallon.” That’s nearly an 8% size decrease.

Tropicana 48 oz Bottle

Year Volume
1970s 48 oz
1980s 48 oz
1990s 48 oz
2000s 48 oz
2010s 52 oz

Tropicana’s 48 oz plastic bottle has remained consistent at 48 ounces since the 1970s, with the exception of a brief upsizing to 52 ounces in the early 2010s.

Minute Maid 64 oz Carton

Year Volume
1980s 64 oz
1990s 64 oz
2000s 59 oz
2010s 59 oz

Minute Maid followed a similar pattern to Tropicana. Their iconic gable-top cartons were 64 ounces through the 1990s before downsizing to 59 ounces in the 2000s.

Florida Natural 64 oz Carton

Year Volume
1990s 64 oz
2000s 64 oz
2010s 59 oz

Florida Natural bucked the trend and maintained a consistent 64 oz carton through the 2000s. But they too downsized to 59 ounces in the 2010s.

Simply Orange 52 oz Bottle

Year Volume
2000s 64 oz
2010s 52 oz

When Simply Orange debuted in the 2000s, it was in 64 oz plastic bottles. But by the 2010s, the bottles shrank to 52 ounces – an almost 20% decrease.

Original Florida Orange Juice 64 oz Carton

Year Volume
2000s 64 oz
2010s 59 oz

Original Florida Orange Juice from Coca-Cola started at 64 ounces but is now down to 59 ounces.

Why Are Orange Juice Containers Shrinking?

Why have orange juice brands quietly downsized their packaging over the years? There are likely a few key reasons:

  • Hiding price increases – Reducing container sizes allows brands to avoid raising official prices. Consumers may not notice a 5-10% size decrease, allowing companies to increase profit per unit while avoiding sticker shock.
  • Higher production costs – Orange crops can be vulnerable to disease and bad weather. Growers must constantly battle citrus greening disease. These production challenges raise costs, which brands offset by offering less juice for the same price.
  • Reducing waste – Smaller containers may lead to less spoiled, unfinished juice getting thrown out. This reduces waste and saves money for both consumers and brands.
  • New container materials – Some brands have shifted from heavier glass bottles to lighter plastic. The switch to plastic may facilitate slightly smaller sizes.

While these reasons make sense for juice companies’ bottom lines, the impact on consumers’ wallets may be less obvious.

The Impact of “Shrinkflation” on Shoppers

What does shrinkflation mean for orange juice buyers? Here are some key disadvantages:

  • Higher effective prices over time. You’re getting less for your dollar compared to previous decades.
  • Decreased value. The volume decrease isn’t matched by a decrease in price.
  • Harder to comparison shop. When container sizes change, it’s tougher to accurately compare orange juice prices between brands or across years.
  • Overpaying. People sticking with their typical brand and size out of habit may overpay for less juice than they realize.
  • Nutrition changes. Getting less juice means a reduction in vitamin C intake and other nutrients with each serving.

In summary, shrinkflation surreptitiously increases the real price paid for orange juice. Companies may save money but shoppers get less for their grocery budget.

Recommendations for Orange Juice Buyers

What can orange juice lovers do in response to ever-shrinking container sizes? Here are some tips:

  • Pay attention to volumes. Closely read labels to confirm how many ounces or milliliters are in each container.
  • Compare different brands and sizes. Use price per ounce to understand your best value.
  • Consider store brands. Generic labels may offer larger sizes for lower cost.
  • Buy in bulk when possible. Larger containers, though less convenient, typically offer the lowest cost per ounce.
  • Make your own. Fresh-squeezing oranges provides full control over portions plus maximum nutrition.
  • Switch beverages. Explore other healthy, affordable drinks like apple juice or milk.

Being an informed shopper and calculating price per ounce is the best defense against sneaky shrinkflation. With diligence, you can still enjoy delicious and nutritious orange juice while getting the most for your money.

The Bottom Line

Container downsizing is a decades-long trend for top orange juice brands. While gradual, the collective impact is substantial – you’re getting nearly 10% less juice compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Manufacturers have their reasons for shrinkflation, but consumers are more likely to get squeezed.

By being aware of this trend and smarter in the juice aisle, you can find the best orange juice value. But it may mean changing lifelong buying habits or switching brands you’ve preferred for years. Diligent label reading and price comparisons help you fight back against shrinkflation and vote with your wallet.

Next time you reach for orange juice, take a closer look at the container. Is it smaller than you remember? You may be surprised to confirm that you really are getting less for your money thanks to sneaky downsizing. But with increased awareness as a shopper, you can still enjoy every sip while getting your full serving of vitamin C.

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