Your Guide to Beating Shrinkage


“I was there when the GST came in, and a lot of things went down 10%,” she said.

Marquardt explains that these days Bureau boffins no longer physically visit stores to check food prices. Instead, they receive scanner data from major supermarkets, which not only includes price, but also information on the overall weight and size of products. Staff can see when a size change has occurred and adjust price movements accordingly.

“It’s a unit pricing approach,” says Marquardt. “So we can say that the unit price increased by 10%, even though the shelf price remained the same.”

Phew. But still, sneaky, right?

The British are particularly outraged by this type of shrinkage. In 2019, their National Bureau of Statistics released a study that identified 206 that the products had shrunk in size over a period of almost two years, including food – mainly breads, cereals, jams, chocolate and confectionery – and household products like toilet rolls and diapers. About 1-2% of food products had shrunk.

Basically, they also found: “Prices tended not to change as products changed size, consistent with the idea that some products experience ‘shrinkflation’.”

Unless you regularly note the weight of the packages of your favorite products, the contraction can be difficult to spot.

“If you’re so mad that they’ve shrunk the package, bite down and buy a competing brand.”

Consumer activist Christopher Zinn

Cadbury’s has been open about changes to its family-size chocolate blocks which have gone from 250 grams to 180 grams over the years.

With Tim Tams, it’s complicated. The standard packs always contain 11 cookies, but those of the fancy variety only contain nine cookies.

According to the US website mouse footprintCottonelle toilet paper rolls recently went from 340 to 312 sheets per roll, Dove moisturizer from 24 oz to 22 oz and Gatorade bottles from 32 oz to 28 oz.

When I appealed on Instagram, people reported a reduced size for cookies, tea bags, chips, yogurt, hamburger buns, paper napkins, and ice cream.

A keen observer on social media recently noticed that Aldi had conducted a trial in stores in Queensland and South Australia to reduce the size of its Premier Greek yogurt from 1 kilogram to 700 grams – a 30% reduction – while reducing the price from $4.79 to $4.49 – only a 6% reduction.

I asked Aldi to ‘please explain’ and a spokesperson replied: ‘We remain focused on the continued price review for the entire dairy category. Ultimately we We always want to offer the best value for our customers while maintaining fair prices with our partner suppliers.”

Christopher Zinn is a longtime consumer advocate for financial advisory firm Life Sherpa. He says that while the shrinking phenomenon is real, “most of the time there are workarounds or substitutes.”

“It still strikes me because the biggest ironic consumer concern about shrinking pack sizes is often with chocolates, crisps, cookies, breakfast cereals and other sugary/fatty foods that we are told to eat. eat less,” he said.


Simply eating smaller portions is definitely an option. Another option is to switch to surrogate brands, says Zinn. “There is almost always one. It may be a house brand or a special offer from another competing producer. OK, this might not be your favorite cookie, but if you’re so mad that they shrunk the packaging, take a bite and buy a competing brand.

Opting for unpackaged, fresh food snacks, such as fruits and nuts, is also a good option, says Zinn. “Not only can you choose the weight and maybe reduce the weight, but you can also avoid changing the size of the packages.”

Finally, always look carefully at unit prices, therefore, for 100 grams or similar.

“That’s the main thing,” says Zinn. “Unit pricing shows true value because you see how much something costs per kilo or litre, regardless of the size of the box. It was an uphill battle to get that kind of price transparency and keep it at a standard level with readable font sizes on price tags etc, so use it or lose it.

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