Manufacturers are quietly cutting container sizes without lowering prices across the board, from toilet paper to yoghurt and coffee to corn chips. It’s known as “shrinkflation,” and it’s happening all around the world.It’s the inflation that no one expects to see.
In the United States, a tiny box of Kleenex now contains 60 tissues, down from 65 just a few months ago. Chobani Flips yoghurts have been reduced in size from 5.3 to 4.5 ounces. Nestle reduced the size of its Nescafe Azera Americano coffee tins in the United Kingdom from 100 to 90 grammes. A bar of Vim dish soap in India has shrunk from 155 to 135 grammes.
Experts claim shrinkflation isn’t a new phenomenon. However, it becomes more common during periods of high inflation, as businesses struggle to keep up with rising expenses for ingredients, packaging, labour, and transportation.
Global consumer price inflation was up an estimated 7 per cent in May, a pace that will likely continue through September, according to S & P Global.
Companies might also use techniques to divert attention away from downsizing, such as labelling smaller products with eye-catching new labels.
Fritos did exactly that. Fritos Scoops “Party Size” bags used to be 18 ounces, and some are still available at a Texas grocery store. However, practically every other major retailer is now advertising 15.5-ounce “Party Size” Fritos Scoops, which are more expensive.
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When asked about Fritos, PepsiCo did not comment. It did, however, agree that Gatorade bottles are shrinking. The company has lately begun replacing 32-ounce bottles with 28-ounce bottles that are tapered in the middle to make them easier to grip.
Likewise, Kimberly-Clark—which makes both Cottonelle and Kleenex—didn’t respond to requests for comment on the reduced package sizes. Proctor & Gamble Co. didn’t respond when asked about Pantene Pro-V Curl Perfection conditioner, which has been downsized from 12 fluid ounces to 10.4 fluid ounces but still costs $3.99.
Earth’s Best Organic Sunny Day Snack Bars went from eight bars per box to seven, but the price listed at multiple stores remains $3.69. Hain Celestial Group, the brand’s owner, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Some companies are straightforward about the changes. In Japan, snack maker Calbee Inc. announced 10 percent weight reductions–and 10 percent price increases–for many of its products in May, including veggie chips and crispy edamame. The company blamed a sharp rise in the cost of raw materials.
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In January, Domino’s Pizza announced that its 10-piece chicken wings would be reduced to eight pieces for the same $7.99 carryout price. The high cost of chicken was cited by Domino’s.
According to Byas Anand, head of corporate relations for Dabur India, a consumer care and food company, “down-switching” — another word for shrinkflation — is largely done in rural regions, where people are poorer and more price sensitive. Companies simply raise prices in cities.
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(With inputs from agencies)