Your Favorite Snacks Are Getting Smaller Thanks to 'Shrinkflation'
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No one likes paying more for things — especially in times such as these when rampant inflation is driving up the price of everything. But suppliers do have other options besides increasing prices: They can try to cut costs elsewhere, including by making their products smaller. So next time you grab your favorite snack or drink, don't just check the price — check the weight, too. You could be facing "shrinkflation."
"Shrinkflation" is nothing new — the word alone has been around for at least a decade according to Merriam-Webster — but the concept has received renewed interest recently as America has faced its worst inflation rates in generations. And confirmed cases of shrinking products at grocery stores have been popping up all over.
For instance, if you buy a bag of Doritos, expect about five fewer chips. Frito-Lay reportedly confirmed that they dropped the weight of bags from 9.75 ounces to 9.25 ounces. "Inflation is hitting everyone," a spokesperson told Quartz. "We took just a little bit out of the bag so we can give you the same price and you can keep enjoying your chips." The same goes for Wheat Thins: A Mondalez representative confirmed to the site that a family-size box had gone from 16 ounces to 14 ounces, around 28 fewer crackers.
Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate, suggests that nothing is safe, really. On his site MousePrint.org which tracks product downsizing, in March alone he's documented changes to everything from Keebler Chips Deluxe with M&Ms (from 11.3 ounces to 9.75 ounces), Sun-Maid Raisins (22.58 ounces to 20 ounces) and Gatorade (from 32 fluid ounces to 28 fluid ounces).
Gatorade's changes specifically point to a method used for shrinking that consumers should watch out for: Sometimes, redesigned packaging can be used to help mask other changes to a product. "Basically we redesigned the bottle, it's more aerodynamic and it's easier to grab," a spokesperson for PepsiCo, maker of Gatorade, was quoted as saying by Quartz. "The redesign generates a new cost and the bottles are a little bit more expensive…this is only a matter of design."
And speaking with CNA Insider last week, Dworsky demonstrated a change that can be even harder to spot: a box of Apple Jacks looked the same from the front as you'd see it on the shelf, but had actually become narrower. According to Dworsky, that smaller size is something that, "You're never going to see on the packages. They don't announce that. They always announce the positive stuff."
So if you spot one of your go-to products with a "great new look," be aware that you may also be getting less of it.