Small packages, same prices: shrinkage is sneaky

Upper grocery prices continue to have an impact on American consumers, even though inflation is slowing its frenetic pace. the Consumer Price Index for April shows that the “food at home index” rose another 1% last month and prices are 10.8% higher than a year ago.

And while the prices of food, household and maintenance products are on the rise, some products also become smaller. Resizing packaging is almost never obvious to customers, as we are left to decipher the fine print or compare new bottles or boxes. You may notice the price of cat treats go up by a dollar, but do you notice when the quantity of treats goes down?

“Shrinkflation,” or reducing the size of packages, has been a common practice in the food industry for decades. Companies reduce the size or quantity of items while keeping the same prices.

Shoppers across the United States have recently reported smaller sizes for toilet paper, cookies, chips and other common groceries. Read on to learn more about contraction and how to track it, including a list of the latest products that have recently been discounted.

To go further, discover what will be the impact of rising interest rates on the economyHow? ‘Or’ What save money on gasand 16 ways to save on food, travel and more.

What does “shrinkflation” mean?

Shrinkflation, or package downsizing, is the practice of reducing the size or quantity of a product while maintaining the same price. It could be fewer chips in the bag, fewer scoops of ice cream in the container, or a lighter bag of cat food.

According to John Gourville, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, the total price remains the same, but the cost per unit increases and customers may not notice what the price increases actually are. “We found that consumers reacted strongly to periodic price changes, but not at all to periodic (but systematic) reductions in quantity,” Gourville said in an interview back in 2004.

Why do consumer agencies criticize shrinkage?

Shrinkflation is a way for producers to effectively raise the prices of items without making it obvious to consumers. Companies often broadcast when they increase the size of their product, but do not notify consumers when it has become smaller.

Some companies may take the opportunity of a rebranding or new packaging to use contraction, as they promise better flavor or new features to distract from changes in their product sizes.

Companies can try to hide shrinkage by modifying packaging, according to Gourville.

Packaging tricks can include adding dimples to the bottom of bottles or “fewer calories” claims. In a statement to Quartza Gatorade representative said they recently redesigned the bottle – which reduced the amount of Gatorade from 32 to 28 ounces – to be “more streamlined” and “easier to grip”.

How can I protect myself against shrinkage?

As mentioned, consumers tend to pay much more attention to product prices than to package sizes. Breaking this trend is step #1 to protect yourself against shrinkage: learn packaging sizes and unit price for your favorite products.

If you notice a product has shrunk or reduced the number of items included, consider competitors who offer a similar product at a lower cost per ounce or per item. Compare unit prices to see which product offers the best deal.

Shrinkflation also offers the option of refusing to purchase packaged foods. Companies may be able to shrink the size of cereal boxes and granola bars, but they can’t shrink a pound of apples or carrots. Reducing the amount of packaged food you buy will protect you against hidden price increases due to shrinkage.

Longtime consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky has made shrinking (or downsizing, as he calls it) a major focus of his website. MousePrintwhich is dedicated to examining the fine print of advertising claims.

Every few months, Dworsky publish compilations of all the products it has found that have recently shrunk in size. Dworsky typically posts on Mondays and publishes articles from his readers to get a fuller picture of the products that have changed.

the Reddit forum /r/shrinkflation also serves as a good source to track package size changes for your favorite products. Users post examples of shrinkage they have found in their local stores or online, usually with screenshots or photos as proof.

Which products have shrunk recently?

Consumers have reported that many food and household products have shrunk in size or number:

More recently, Pringles seem to get smaller with a new packaging design. The cans now feature a depiction of Julius Pringles with no hair on his head, while reduce the amount of crisps from 200 grams to 165 grams.

Cuddles nappies has made it a little more difficult for parents with a reduction in the number of nappies in each package. A close eye on Reddit discovered that Little Snugglers packages for babies up to 14 pounds went from 96 per package to 84.

Procter & Gamble Cleaning Products Cascade brand and Unilever Seventh generation have also reduced the size of their packages recently. Seventh Generation Liquid Dish Soap went from 25 to 19 ounces with a redesign of the bottle, while Cascade didn’t even bother to update the look of the box while still reduce the number of dishwasher pods from 78 to 63.

MousePrint watch that Charmin toilet paper reduced the size of its Super Mega packaging from 396 double-fold sheets per roll to 366. It also reduced its Mega packaging from 266 sheets per roll to 244.

Cottonelle toilet paper reduced the number of sheets in its two main brands: Ultra Clean – from 340 sheets to 312; and Ultra Comfort – from 284 sheets to 268, also by MousePrint.

Other bath products have also become smaller: Pantene renamed his Curl protection conditioner and in the process reduced the size from 12 to 10.4 ounces, by Reddit. And MousePrint reports that Dove shower gel recently shrunk from 24 to 22 oz.

Gatorade got a lot of attention recently for downsizing their 32-ounce bottle to 28-ounce, but the company actually introduced a new, smaller 28-ounce bottle about 10 years ago. While a lot reports indicate the end of the 32-ounce bottle in physical stores, it is still on sale at select online retailers.


In Earth Best’s new packaging, Grover has become smaller, as has the number of bars.

Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET

The Best Sesame Street Bars on Earth reduced the number of bars in its packages from 8 to 7, lowering the package weight from 5.3 to 4.69 ounces. If you’re quick, you can still find some of the 8-bar packages at online retailers.

Last year, Doritos dropped the weight of its regular-sized bags from 9.75 to 9.25 ounces – a loss of about five chips per bag. The editors also noticed that the party-sized bag went from 15.5 to 14.5 ounces.

by Nabisco Wheat breads made its “Family Size” product smaller, lowering the packaging weight from 16 to 14 ounces, by Reddit.

Packages of Keebler cookies are also decreasing. His Vienna fingers bag has been reduced in size from 14.2 to 12 ounces, by Reddit. And MousePrint Reports than the size of the regular Deluxe fries packaging increased from 11.3 to 9.7 ounces and family size increased from 17.2 to 14.6 ounces. Keeber’s EL Fudge cookies weren’t spared from the contraction either, dropping from 13.6 to 12 ounces.

An eagle-eyed buyer in the Instacart subReddit discovered that bags of Utz Chips decreased from 9.5 to 9 oz.

The package for Snyder’s Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Pieces was renamed, and in the process shrunk from 12 to 11.25 ounces, by MousePrint.

Sun Maid Grapes have also become smaller, by Reddit. The package of raisins was recently reduced from 22.58 to 20 ounces, an 11% reduction.

Fast food products are also declining. In a recent earnings call, Carrols Restaurant Group announced that it was reducing the number of Burger King Chicken Nuggets in an order of 10 to 8, by Food & Wine.

In a similar move, Dominoes recently reduced the number of chicken wings in his orders of 10 to 8 as well, citing “unprecedented ingredient costs”, by CNN.