Shrinking Groceries? Here’s How Shrinkflation is Impacting Your Food Budget

A bag of Tortilla Chips on a white background.
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Many companies have raised prices to keep up with inflation, but retail industry experts now say that we may see consumer products shrink in size, quantity or both because of rising costs. 

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In February, the inflation rate hit a 40-year high of 7.9%, according to the most recent data from the Labor Department. The inflation gauge rose 0.8% from the month earlier, reflecting higher gasoline, food and shelter costs.

Consumers are more likely to notice the price of goods than they are to notice small changes to the size or volume of products, says The Philadelphia Inquirer. Product downsizing is also known as “shrinkflation.”

“Shrinkflation is a way to disguise inflation, and we see it commonly with food and beverages, or disposables [products] like garbage bags, things with a lot of turnover,” Chris Motola, a financial analyst at MerchantMaverick.com, explains to The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

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“It’s not fraud,” Motola added. “But they count on consumers not to do the math.”

Edgar Dworsky, consumer advocate and editor of the website ConsumerWorld.org, told CNN that product downsizing is becoming increasingly prevalent, noting several instances of brands shrinking the size of their products.

For example, Procter & Gamble’s  Charmin’s ultra-soft toilet paper 18-count mega package contains 244 two-ply sheets, down from 264 double-ply sheets per roll. Super mega rolls are also down to 366 sheets from a previous 396 sheets per roll, CNN reported. Dworsky says that this is the equivalent of losing about a roll and a half in the new 18-count package. 

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“For consumers, this is kind of an annoyance…. or a concern depending on the product we’re talking about,” said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s business school, CNN reports. “I do believe inflation will be here for a while and we will see such product adjustments continue to happen.”

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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