Quebec Standard

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Shrinkflation is happening on grocery shop shelves


Key takeaways: 

  • Manufacturers may revise packaging sizes or set fewer products inside to maintain earnings as prices grow.
  • ‘Shrinkflation,’ as it’s known, drives it effortless to hide growing prices because the manufacturer sets the same for fewer products. 
  • Although Kathleen Cassidy of Oakville, Ont., has seen because she pays additional attention to grocery costs and appreciations her couponing hobby. 

When Kathleen Cassidy goes grocery shopping these days, she’s seen that while so many costs are going up, others remain the same — but there’s less inside.

Take laundry detergent pods, for instance.

“I used to get 40 of those; now I only get 38. It is hard for the customer … you don’t get as much for your dollar as you used to,” she stated.

Cassidy’s hobby is couponing, so she spends more attention on costs than the average consumer. The tactic she’s picked up on is a natural phenomenon known as shrinkflation, where firms decrease the size or quantity of their products while charging the same price.

“I’ve seen it defined as this sneaky inflation cousin,” said Matthew Philp, Toronto Metropolitan University marketing teacher. He says firms can make containers smaller or different shapes or put less product inside.

Also read: Quebec’s Saguenay province braces for flooding as the water increases 

Dworsky points to two bottles of Gatorade he saw for sale in the U.S.

“It’s only to hide that their prices are rising.”

Reversing product sizes are difficult to track

Shrinkflation is challenging because shops usually clear out old goods before substituting them. But customer watchdog Edgar Dworsky, based in Boston, has spent years looking for instances of shrinking stocks.

Dworsky points to two bottles of Gatorade he saw for sale in the U.S. One has 32 ounces (946 ml), the other 28 ounces (828 ml).

“Unless you noticed them side by side at the same height, you would think you’re purchasing the same product, but you’re, in nature, spending more than a 10 percent price growth,” Dworsky said.

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