'Shrinkflation' Gives Us Less Bang For Our Buck, Experts Warn
Reader, have you ever bought yourself a family-sized box of cereal, and felt there was something just … missing? Do jumbo packs of toilet paper seem to be getting less and less … jumbo with each visit to the supermarket? Do you feel your buck doesn't just produce enough “bang” for your liking?
Well, reader, despite your strange shopping experience, it seems brands haven't suddenly concerned themselves with your sugar intake, nor are you accidentally shopping in a very convincing miniature grocery store – according to a new report, it seems the sizes of common products are growing smaller and smaller in a strange phenomenon experts have dubbed “shrinkflation." Described by NPR's Planet Money podcast as “inflation's devious cousin," “shrinkflation” is a new name for a long-running trend called “downsizing," in which companies decrease the size and quantity of their products without changing the price or generally speaking, looping consumers in on the alteration.
"Downsizing is really a sneaky price increase," Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and ex-assistant attorney told NPR earlier this month. As such, it seems buyers often overlook these changes, focusing on cash rather than specific quantity. “Consumers tend to be price conscious. But they're not net-weight conscious," he continued. "They can tell instantly if they're used to paying $2.99 for a carton of orange juice and that goes up to $3.19. But if the orange juice container goes from 64 ounces to 59 ounces, they're probably not going to notice."
Typically occurring "When manufacturers face some type of pricing pressure," according to Dworsky, these shifts are usually a result of some item involved in production increasing in cost and can happen to a variety of products. For example, as Dworsky noted, the original pack of Charmin toilet paper included 650 sheets. Nowadays, the brand's “mega rolls” and “Super Mega Rolls” both contain less than their basic predecessor, despite their names boasting their size. Although a representative of the company pinned this shift on "innovations" that require consumers to use less TP, this seems like a load of, well, you know.
Treats, too, are not immune from “shrinkflation” as well. As denoted at the beginning of NPR's article, the weight of a General Mills Family Sized cereal quietly shrunk from 19.3 ounces to 18.1 ounces.
So folks, next time you're out shopping, check the price and the size to make sure you're getting a decent deal. And if not? Hey, at least there's built-in portion control?