Fast Food’s Shrinking Sizes

Articles
April 29, 2010

Fast Food’s Shrinking Sizes

Portion sizes give consumers the ok, they demonstrate the “norm”, the accepted amount that most people are eating or are “supposed” to eat.

Portion sizes give consumers the ok, they demonstrate the “norm”, the accepted amount that most people are eating or are “supposed” to eat.  This may not be intentional - like the larger portion sizes better value message- but many restaurants, especially fast food eateries, subliminally encourage customers to overeat. The latest message that our favorite fast food eateries is sending out is that it’s ok to snack on smaller sized, possibly even more appropriate meal sized portions.  Chains like Burger King, with the “BK Burger Shots” (which since their 2009 début has been discontinued) McDonalds Big Mac Snack Wraps, Quiznos smaller ‘Sammie’ wrap, and now Dairy Queen is taking a chance with smaller, snack-sized portions of a menu favorite.
 
Dairy Queen has recently introduced a 7 ounce ‘Mini Blizzard’, 5 ounces smaller than their current small sized offering.  According to Dean Peters, Dairy Queen's associate VP of communications, it’s what the customers wanted. Dean believes customers requested the 7 ounce version because of, “smaller appetites” but The Lempert Report finds that reasoning unfounded, and believes the desire for smaller portions is due to an increased awareness of nutrition, health and hey - maybe those 100 calorie snack packs really did train consumers’ eye for portion sizes.
 
With in-your-face calorie and nutrition labeling posted in fast food and other chain restaurants, patrons and menu formulators have no where to hide, nor the ability to plead ignorance. Although ignorance is truly bliss when gulping down Dairy Queen’s large (just under 19 oz) Carmel Brownie Blizzard that boasts a ‘mere’ 1,200 calories, 46 grams of fat, 30 of which are saturated, 133 grams of sugar…that’s approximately 32 teaspoons of sugar, among other dietary offenders.
 
CPG manufacturers should heed this fast food trend, and offer smaller versions of popular entrees- marketed as smaller portions and priced appropriately rather than snacks or entrees for dieters. As mentioned in a previous article about labeling, CPGs and restaurants should come clean and be realistic about appropriate portion sizes and clear labeling.