Kraft Has A Plan To Get You To Buy More Salad Dressing

I always pride myself on being somewhat of a watchdog on noticing when companies seem to be giving you more for less.  I’ve written about how packaging changes can lead to higher prices for baby formula or even how changing the suggested usage in products like baking soda could trigger more sales, but the latest one I’ve seen is a new one, and probably something you may have already come across.

I’m talking about salad dressing.  With the latest change, they didn’t change the size of the bottle or anything else.  No, they’re being a bit more “Kraft”-y, if you will.

We aren’t loyal to any one brand of dressing, but it seems that Kraft has a good portion of our sales.  I’m pretty much of the opinion that you need one type of salad dressing: Ranch.  My wife has five or six other ones, but if it were up to me, ranch would be the only salad dressing in the fridge.

So, I tend to notice when something changes, and with the latest bottle we opened, I noticed a big change.

Ranch, as I’m sure you all know, is a thicker dressing, so typically when you turn the bottle it doesn’t just come out, but once it does, it can exit the bottle quickly.  For years, Kraft and other providers of ranch dressing have been kind enough to make the hole smaller on the bottle.  Instead of allowing the entire surface area of the top of the bottle to be open, they would have a small piece of plastic there with a smaller opening.

Until recently.

In the course of a meal, we were running out of one bottle of ranch, so I finished up what was left, then opened a new bottle.  Old bottle: Smaller opening.  New bottle: It was gone. Left with a bigger opening.

Not thinking, probably because I never really had to before, I tipped the bottle upside down and squeezed.

And, predictably, about a quarter of the bottle of ranch came out.  Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the point is, I got much more than I needed or wanted.

Every time afterward that I used the bottle, I found myself typically getting more than I wanted, until after a few tries when I began thinking about and adjusting the way that tipped the bottle, watched for the ranch, and tried to limit what came out.

See, I think Kraft had made this change as a two fold strategy:

  1. Lower costs – By removing that small piece of plastic, they likely save a little bit of money.  It’s probably less than a penny per bottle, but when you add up that they sell hundreds of thousands of bottles of salad dressing a day, it likely provides a small cost saving.
  2. Higher usage – Even though I have ‘figured out’ how to cut back the amount of ranch I use, it took me a few tries to get there, and even since figuring it out, I’ve forgotten all about it.  This has left more than one occasion where I end up with more ranch than I need.  Since nobody ever take the ranch from a salad and puts it back in the bottle, this means that it gets rinsed off.  Meaning, you’re rinsing money down the drain….and you’re going through your bottle faster than you otherwise would.

If the average family goes through three bottles of ranch in a year, but now is wasting 10-20% of their dressing, this means they could average half a bottle of ranch per year per family.

That adds up pretty quickly.

I think it’s a pretty dirty trick if you ask me.  I have no problem with Kraft making money.  They’re a company that provides a product and they have a responsibility to any shareholder of Kraft stock to deliver maximum profits.  But to do it by creating waste is something I can’t get on board with.

Our proposed solution

In order to combat this, our plan is to buy some small plastic squeeze bottles and put our ranch in there.  By design, these have a smaller opening and will control the amount of salad dressing that comes out.  This will allow us to reduce the waste that Kraft has introduced, and the squeeze bottles will pay for themselves after less than a year if my calculations are correct.  These squeeze bottles can be cleaned out and re-used for many, many bottles of salad dressing.

What do you think?  Is creating sales by creating waste an approach that companies should take and get away with?  Have you noticed this change?

27 thoughts on “Kraft Has A Plan To Get You To Buy More Salad Dressing”

  1. Congrats on being craftier than Kraft! Anything is good to make you consume more, but I guess in the end if it is unpractical to have a packaging that just pours half bottle on your salad people will switch.

    • Hopefully though in situations like this it seems to be a race to the bottom, meaning once one manufacturer makes this change, the rest will follow suit. That’s why I recommended transferring the dressing to your own bottle, which I fear will become the only way that you can have a reasonably sized bottle opening in the future.

  2. I’ve not noticed this change as I don’t use dressing, but I have noticed others and does not surprise me. It drives me nuts when companies do this. Sure, they can do what they want but at least be upfront about it and don’t try and hide it from us.

    • I don’t think they tried to hide it. They’re obviously not going to advertise the fact that they made the change. It’s just worth pointing out so that people are aware and can consider if they need to do anything to align with the change.

  3. I think most people would never notice this or think about it this way. I think it is perfectly acceptable for them to change their packaging. I also think it is acceptable for you to find a better brand with better packaging.

    • I agree, they have the right to make the change. I point it out so that consumers don’t overlook it and so they can consider some alternative ideas to dispensing dressing if they find themselves accidentally pouring out too much.

  4. I doubt that getting you to use more was really part of their master plan, but I’m sure they’ll view it as a welcome side effect. What really bugs me is when companies shrink the size of the product and charge the same amount, hoping you wont notice you’re getting less!

    • I have written a few articles over the life of the blog about companies that give you less and charge the same price. It is one of my biggest pet peeves.

  5. Mmm, ranch. It just goes so perfectly with everything (but I hate gobs of creamy Ranch smothering my salad.) We use squeeze bottles for jarred honey and salad dressing to minimize waste. Since you enjoy Kraft ranch dressing, I am curious if you own any Kraft stock?

  6. See, I remember ranch dressing in the past not having that hole. I was grateful for it, but I’ve ranched up enough salads that I don’t take it for granted.

    I should be putting my dressing on the side, but don’t always have a little dressing cup clean/handy/etc.

    • That’s true, I know a good strategy for limiting your dressing intake is to put it on the side and dip each bite into it. I typically am not one to put a lot of dressing on my salad, so I’ve never had to do this, but it can be a helpful strategy, I’m sure.

  7. I’ve noticed this as well. Well, not that Kraft removed that little insert, but that when it’s not there, more dressing comes out. I have a bottle of ranch in my fridge that has the plastic insert, but it’s not connected to the bottle very well, and every now and then it gets stuck in the cap when I twist it off. And because I’m used to pouring the ranch with the piece in place, when it occasionally comes undone, I accidentally pour way too much ranch out. It’s really frustrating, and I’m sure you’re right that Kraft is counting on people using more dressing when the piece isn’t there.

  8. I love ranch. I don’t really have it at home (we don’t eat it often enough, which is bad) so any big dressing bottles we get usually go bad before we use even half of it. However I most always get ranch (on the side) when we go out to eat and I get a salad. I wonder though, why does ranch always taste better at restaurants than at home? 😉 I do like your idea of using your own re-usable containers. I do that for a lot of things that I get in larger sizes or bulk – put in my own containers that are more manageable.

    As for the “on-the-side” containers for at home…”somehow” we have several of those little plastic ramekins that you see at the restaurant. Our collection has “grown” over the years. 🙂 We use those all the time for dipping sauces with meals.

    btw – I do own Kraft stock. I’ve owned them since 2003. and since in October they became Mondelez International and spun off the North American Kraft Foods group, I now own both companies’ stocks (split).

    • I wrote a post a couple of years back asking the same question about why the dressing always tastes better at restaurants. In fact, my sister-in-law’s boyfriend has a roommate whose family owns a pizza place that has amazing ranch, and he’s gotten us some that we now keep in our fridge, and it’s so much better than the bottle of Kraft. 🙂

  9. I’m with The First Million is the hardest. I don’t think they intended you to use more, but I’m sure they’re not upset. They possibly were looking for ways to cut costs and that little cap probably can add up to millions. I remember watching a documentary in school about one of those oil barrens, I think it was Rockefeller. He removed one rivet from each oil drum, a savings of about a penny. Over the course of his business he saved more than a million dollars.

    • I agree, their first thought was to reduce material cost, but somewhere along the way they had to know that this would indirectly impact the consumer, but chose to disregard this impact. I’m not mad. Just pointing it out.

  10. Oh my! What a conspiracy theory! Sadly, I think you’re right. I did notice this recently, actually. I didn’t put this theory together, but I do remember it being super annoying to have accidentally smothered my toddler’s carrots with ranch!

  11. I have been frustrated with the Kraft Western dressing. It does not have a small hole for serving like the other dressings in the exact same bottle (Kraft Italian). Last year I contacted the company about this as I also dislike pouring too much dressing on my salad. The company would not have to change their bottle manufacturing at all. They thanked me for my comments, but I’ve seen no change.

  12. I have noticed and it is especially annoying when the kids get the ranch out of the fridge and dump it. If its to save money or make more, why don’t ketchup and mustard manufactures do the same thing and get rid of the top piece? I’m thinking there is more to the puzzle – maybe a lawsuit or something because a kid swallowed the plastic piece on top. Rather than labeling their dressings with chocking hazard warnings maybe they just decided to get rid of the smaller pieces? The underside of the caps still have the remnants if the good ol’ days with the squeeze bottle tops…

      • Yes Michael I have noticed this for a few years like Paul Newman’s bottles I like ceaser dressing and the spout is the size of a fifty cent piece, if you turned it upside down for 1sec it would completely empty out. I also noticed ridiculously large holes in spices too, like Mrs dash, fresh finds, McCormick salad toppings and so on. I agre its toget you to use more being #1factor

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