Shoppers Squeeze Nickels And Consumer Goods Makers

For most of the 1980s, the economics of the packaged-goods industry could be summed up in one phrase: People gotta eat. Fueled by robust demand for healthful and convenient foods, marketers such as Kraft General Foods Group and H. J. Heinz Co. routinely rolled up double-digit earnings gains. Procter & Gamble Co. and other makers of toothpaste and soap thrived on a similar truism: People gotta wash.

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