What is Shrinkflation?

Oct 25, 2022Articles

If you live in the United States, you have likely noticed that some of our favorite products have shrunk in size in the past few years. As the price of ingredients and manufacturing increases due to the supply chain crisis and soaring inflation, we end up with smaller brand products that try to keep prices the same, but often they continue to increase. 

This is known as Shrinkflation, or the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the situation when the price of a product stays the same and its size gets smaller.” But, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer food prices have jumped 10.9% over the past year. This is the biggest 12-month increase since 1979. 

The phenomenon started before the coronavirus pandemic but persists as retailers have to pay more for both raw materials and labor. Here are a few examples from Business Insider

  • A bag of Doritos has shrunk from 9.75 ounces to 9.25 ounces, averaging five fewer chips per bag. Note: Bags in both of these sizes are currently for sale at the same price. 
  • Gatorade redesigned its 32-ounce bottle to be “more aerodynamic and easier to grab” but the new design holds just 28 ounces. This is a 14% drop, despite the bottles being the same height. 
  • Hershey cut down its 18-ounce pack of dark chocolate kisses by almost two ounces. 
  • Quaker’s Life cereal also shrunk from 24.8 ounces to 22.3 and it was renamed from “giant” to “family” size. 

These are only a couple of instances in which brands are addressing growing prices. Shrinkflation tends to come in waves and unfortunately, we happen to be in a tidal wave because of the current economic situation. It makes you wonder if certain companies are using supply constraints as a weapon to make more money or if that is just the “new normal” moving forward as we continue to navigate today’s supply chain techniques. 

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