How To Deal With Shrinkflation: The Sneaky Enemy of Your Wallet

Updated: January 31, 2024

We’ve all experienced it – strolling through the supermarket aisles, ready with our grocery list, and discovering that our daily essentials are no longer available in the size or package that we need.

This is shrinkflation, where products get smaller, but the prices stay the same.

Today, let’s break down what shrinkflation is and why it happens. Most importantly, let’s learn how to navigate this sneaky phenomenon without ruining our budget.

What is Shrinkflation?

So, what exactly is shrinkflation? It’s when manufacturers reduce the size or quantity of a product while keeping its price constant. It’s like ordering your usual latte and realizing the cup has gotten a little smaller, but the price is still the same.

But why does shrinkflation happen? It’s often a response to rising production costs, as companies look for ways to maintain their profit margins without raising prices outright. And yes, it is sneaky.

Consumers are often unaware that it’s happening because sometimes, the reduction in size or serving is so small that you’ll hardly notice it because the packaging looks the same.

I remember one of my favorite drinks used to come in 350 ml cans, and it was not until after several months that I realized they had reduced the contents to 330 ml. I thought I was just becoming more thirsty than usual and would feel dissatisfied after finishing a can.

What’s Usually Affected by Shrinkflation?

Now that we know what shrinkflation is let’s identify the usual suspects.

Keep an eye out for your favorite snacks, cereals, toiletries, and even cleaning products. These items are often the first to undergo size reduction without much fanfare.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with your go-to products, and you’ll be better equipped to spot any stealthy changes on the shelves.

Tips to Tackle Shrinkflation

1. Read Labels Like a Detective

Before tossing that box of cereal into your cart, take a moment to read the fine print. Manufacturers are required to disclose the quantity or weight of the product, so pay attention to those numbers. This will help you identify any suspicious downsizing.

2. Price-Per-Unit Comparison

Instead of fixating solely on the total price, compare the price per unit or ounce. This allows you to see the real value of the product and easily compare it with other options. Apps like smartphone scanners or calculators can come in handy for quick in-store comparisons.

3. Embrace Other Brands

Often, less popular brands and even store-brand products offer a better deal in terms of price per unit. Give them a chance – you might be surprised by the quality and the savings. Plus, supporting smaller brands helps keep the big-name manufacturers on their toes.

4. Buy in Bulk

Purchasing in larger quantities can be a smart move, especially for non-perishable items. Keep an eye on promotions and sales, and stock up when you can. Just make sure you have the storage space!

5. DIY Whenever Possible

Explore the world of DIY – from making your own snacks to crafting cleaning solutions. Not only can this be a fun and rewarding experience, but it also puts you in control of the ingredients and quantities, saving you money in the long run.

Interesting Stories and Trivia

The Ice Cream Scoop Conspiracy

In 2006, Häagen-Dazs faced backlash when they reduced the size of their ice cream cartons from 16 ounces to 14 ounces without adjusting the price. The uproar led to a lawsuit and a subsequent settlement.

Toilet Paper Rolls: Unrolling the Mystery

Toilet paper rolls have a history of shrinking over the years. The standard used to be 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches, but nowadays, you might find rolls that are 4 inches by 4 inches – a subtle but impactful change.

Chips: A Shrinking Crunch

Bags of chips have been shrinking, too. What used to be a robust 16 ounces is now often reduced to 14 or even 12 ounces. That’s fewer chips in every bag, folks!

Conclusion

Staying ahead of the curve is important, and that includes navigating the tricky waters of shrinkflation. By arming ourselves with knowledge, being vigilant shoppers, and embracing smart alternatives, we can stay ahead of the shrinkflation game.

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