Sara Lee Obfuscation
Bimbo Bakeries, USA
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Business as Usual
I shop at the Walmart at 9400 E Hampden Ave, in Denver, CO, or the King Soopers at 3190 S Parker Rd. in Aurora, CO.
I would like to be clear about one thing. The situation that I describe here is not the rare exception. This is everyday business as usual, and it is the same at King Soopers too.
How Much is That?
Imagine you are standing in the bread aisle at the grocery store.
There are about 140 different kinds of bread, and you want to pick out the one loaf of bread that will work best for your needs.
Pick any 2 and ask yourself which is bigger? One loaf is clearly marked 16 oz. size, but you can't easily tell the size of the other loaf. One way to check the size (weight) of the bread is to check the price label on the shelf. Isn't that right, Doug McMillon?
Another way to check the size of the 2 loaves would be to read the info on the package. And for a quick check, you could do a side by side comparison.
Here I am in the bread aisle at my local Walmart. I have 2 loaves of Sara Lee Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread side by side in my cart. To the best of my knowledge, the bread in these 2 loaves is exactly the same. The only difference is the size of the loaf.
The 16 oz loaf costs $3.42. The other loaf is clearly bigger. The larger loaf costs $2.68. You can buy the bigger loaf, throw away 4 ounces, and still save 74 cents.
Can someone please provide an explanation of what is going on here?
Upon Further Review
Obfuscation (or beclouding) is the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, willfully ambiguous, and harder to interpret.
I have taken a close look at the 20 oz. package of bread. I am thinking Fred Penny must have hired a team of experts and asked them to make the package as confusing as possible. Do you think I am exaggerating?
The larger loaf clearly and conspicuously states: "60 Calories". Both loaves have exactly the same bread. The smaller loaf conspicuously states: "120 Calories". The same bread doubles in calories by changing the package to a smaller size. Are you confused?
The code of federal regulations (CFR) states:
The size of the smaller Sara Lee loaf is clearly marked. Not so on the larger loaf. It took me a very long time to find the size of the larger loaf. The size info is printed on a clear section of the package, which means the background is the color of the bread.
Fred, you selected a dark brown ink to identify (declare) the net quantity of contents. Dark brown ink on a dark brown background. Are you kidding? Is this some kind of joke?
Invisible ink flunks the "conspicuous and easily legible" test. This is a clear violation of federal law.
What's In That Package?
The code of federal regulations (CFR) states:
The smaller loaf clearly states "Bread". Somehow, this statement of identity is missing from the larger loaf. I do not for the life of me understand why the word "Bread" would be omitted from the principal display panel. This is a clear violation of federal law.
Who's in Charge
Who is responsible for the price of Sara Lee bread at Walmart? Does Walmart set the price? Or Bimbo? Or the government?
The price label has the Walmart logo, and it says "Everyday Low Price". Low compared to what? The price of this bread is 25% higher than a 25% larger loaf of the same bread. Anyone who buys the smaller loaf is getting screwed by 50%. Right? It would be fair to call it the "Everyday Price". But to call this a "low" price calls into question the honesty and integrity of the Walmart brand.
Is it too much to ask for a proper principal food panel and not get screwed on the price?
By copy of this letter I am asking the FDA and WIC and USDA to treat this as a formal complaint.
Fred, according to the Walmart Statement of Ethics:
Walmart expects its suppliers, consultants, law firms, public relations firms, contractors, and other service providers to act ethically and in a manner consistent with the Walmart Statement of Ethics
If any part of this Statement of Ethics goes against local policies or laws, then the local policy or law must always be followed.
Fred, I think you may have a problem here. Walmart may want to immediately remove the illegal bread from its shelves until you can fix the packaging problems. Unless (of course) the Walmart Statement of Ethics is just lip service. What do you think Fred? Do Doug McMillon and the good people at Walmart mean it? Or not?
Is invisible ink OK with Doug McMillon? Or not?
-- End of Letter --
Philip G Rice
G Rice and MKG Appraisal