- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2002

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) The half-gallon ice cream container the sweet standard of grocery store freezers for decades is shrinking.
While manufacturers over the years reduced the package size of everything from candy bars to dish detergent, the traditional ice cream "brick" remained what it was the half-gallon.
Now, pinched by rising costs of ingredients and afraid to raise prices already above $5, at least two ice cream makers have started silently phasing out the half gallon with a 1.75-quart carton. Others are considering doing the same.
Dreyer's, which is based in Oakland, Calif., and sells the Dreyer's and Edy's brands, began introducing the smaller package in March. The new and old cartons can be found side-by-side during the transition, identical in shape and design and price.
Asked about the move, Dreyer's cites a $30 million jump last year in the cost of butterfat and other ingredients. Dreyer's is one of the biggest manufacturers, with annual sales of $1.4 billion.
"We have over 100 flavors and many of them because people are preferring indulgent, chunky flavors cost more to produce than regular flavors like vanilla," said spokeswoman Dori Bailey.
Schwan's, which sells retail primarily via a 7,000-vehicle fleet of home-delivery trucks, made the switch in late 2001, phasing out half-gallon cartons in favor of a 1.75-quart lidded container.
"When costs trend up, you have a choice to make: Do you raise the unit price or do you reduce the unit?" said John Nabholz, spokesman for Schwan's Sales Enterprises, based in Marshall, Minn.
Other major ice cream makers are sticking with the half gallon for now. About three quarters of all ice cream is sold by the half-gallon, according to the International Ice Cream Association.
Good Humor-Breyer's, which boosted its half-gallon price by 30 cents in mid-2001, has no plans to shrink its packages.
Turkey Hill dairy, in Lancaster, Pa., has no plans to switch from half-gallons, but introduced the idea to a pair of focus groups last week, according to a spokeswoman.
Using the 1.75-quart and half-gallon Edy's containers as examples, Turkey Hill market researchers asked them how they felt about such shrinkage.
"We just asked if anyone was aware that this had happened," Miss Mattilio said, and they weren't.


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