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The Associated Press reports that spice manufacturer McCormick & Co. is being sued by a smaller rival that accuses it of reducing the amount of pepper in its tins by 25 percent without informing consumers of the change.

According to the story, "In its lawsuit, Watkins claims McCormick has violated federal and state laws regarding deceptive trade practices and has misled consumers and food retailers ... As the dominant pepper player, McCormick essentially has set a standard for packaging in the market, prompting competing brands to use similarly sized tins, Watkins argues."

McCormick, on the other hand, says that it "reduced the net weight of its black pepper and has been forthright about the changes," and that it "followed industry standard procedures and were transparent about this change, clearly updating the net weight on packaging, issuing a UPC code change and notifying retailers well in advance. It is typical for packaging size and UPC code changes to take time in store to transition."
KC's View:
It sounds like while McCormick did everything it was legally required to do, there may have been some gaps in the whole consumer transparency piece. I have no idea if the lawsuit has any legal merit, but it has been pretty well documented that one of the ways that many manufacturers keep package prices the same is by reducing the amount of product in the package.

It may be legal. But it may not be the kind of publicity that McCormick wants to get. And I wonder if McCormick would suggest that it has been as transparent as possible, as opposed to as transparent as legally required.