## Kroger Pits Shopping Against Rationality and Arithmetic

*in*Economy

Two jars of Peloponnese Kalamata Olives at my local Kroger supermarket. One jar with the pits still in, one jar with the pits taken out. The jars contain roughly the same weight of olives, by the way: 11.3 ounces for the whole olives, 11.1 ounces for the pitted olives. Since they’re the same price of $4.19, a person might prefer to go with the pitted olives, since that’s less work, right? In addition, you’d think that all those pits added up would weigh more than 0.2 ounces, which means that the pitted olive jar actually contains more edible olive than the whole olive jar.

To combat that pesky comparison thingamabob, this Kroger has labeled the prices for the two jars of olives differently. For the whole olives, the “unit price” is listed as 59.9 cents per ounce. For the pitted olives, the unit price is listed as $11.17 per pound. Wow! Who would want to to pay for olives with a dollar sign when olives for just pennies are available? Messing with units is a silly tactic, isn’t it?

All this doesn’t even seem to add up correctly (or multiply, either). The jar of whole olives is 11.3 ounces in weight, and the labeled unit price for that item is 59.9 cents per ounce. But that would lead to a jar of olives that cost $6.77, not $4.19. If the jar of whole olives really costs $4.19, then the unit price is really 37.1 cents per ounce.

Consider the other jar. The jar of pitted olives is 11.1 ounces in weight, and the labeled unit price of $11.17 per pound is equivalent to 69.8 cents per ounce since there are 16 ounces in a pound. But if the labeled unit price were accurate, that would lead to a jar of pitted olives costing $7.75, not $4.19. If the jar of pitted olives really costs $4.19, then the unit price is really 37.7 cents per ounce.

But Oho! We’re not done yet. You see, there’s a modified weight labeling on each jar. The weight of the jar of Peloponnese whole olives when drained of liquid is 7 ounces, and the weight of the jar of the Peloponnese pitted olives when drained of liquid is 6 ounces. 7 ounces times 59.9 cents per ounces equals $4.19. 6 ounces times 69.8 cents per ounce equals $4.19. The labeled unit price does not account for the brine!

Now we’ve come to the nugget of the matter. How much does an olive pit weigh? I do not have a scale sensitive enough to settle the matter. Damn the lack of proper equipment!

Oh this happens all the time and most shoppers (believe it or not) DON’T “do the math” before buying, they just look for what they want, grab it and pay for it. Very few people will stop and whip out a calculator to check prices or calculate anything (let alone try to do the arithmetic in their head). Few notice when the SIZE of the container is changed by the manufacturer who proudly claims that they’re “holding the line on prices.” All they realize is that it costs more to shop these days (not including the gas to get there and back).

Have you tried comparing paper towels? They are usually priced per sheet, however, the size of each sheet varies a lot making comparisons useless. If the stores would present the comparative information per square foot it might actually be useful information.

As for Tom’s comment about product size, it’s all too true. Cans of soup especially have gotten so small that one can is really no longer enough to satisfy the appetite of most people. Cereal boxes are the worst. Why else would a box of cereal have 11.5 ounces? Seems like a pretty unusual amount.

I’ve tried writing to these corporations about this practice, but the response, if any, is far from satisfying. Once again the old adage of ‘buyer beware’ is so very true.