From: The Wall Street Journal

The Psychology of Small Packages

The Wall Street Journal:

Did you really eat that many cookies?

Packaged-food makers might know the answer, even if you don’t. Aware that people snack a lot throughout the day, they continue to introduce new packaging that encourages consumers to eat their food anytime they have an urge to nibble, what some executives have dubbed “hand-to-mouth” eating.

The psychology behind how this affects eating behavior is complicated. Sometimes small amounts of food could drive you to eat more. There are cues savvy snackers can detect.

An “artificial barrier” helps eaters decide when to stop, says Andrew Geier, lead author of the study published in Health Psychology.

The urge to eat to the bottom of a bag appears to wane when a package is so large it is clearly not a single serving size, Dr. Geier says.

For years people have been shifting their eating habits to include more snacks on the go. Their options have expanded exponentially since the introduction of small bags of potato chips or pretzels for lunchboxes years ago. Target Corp. TGT +0.12% is putting foods like freeze-dried fruit and granola bars into single-serving multi-packs. Smaller packs appear to be boosting consumption of hummus, “not a staple of the American diet,” says Ken Kunze, chief marketing officer for Sabra Dipping Co., a joint venture between Strauss Group and PepsiCo Inc. PEP -1.20% The company offers its hummus and salsa in “Grab and Go” portions, small cups paired with pretzels or chips. More recently it introduced two-ounce hummus cups.

Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, studies how size and packaging affect consumption.

Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal

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