Global Shrinkflation


The word “Shrinkflation” has increasingly crept into usage with people that are more aware about daily products they buy. In short explanation, “Shrinkflation” is the name given to the business tactic of dropping the quantity of an item quietly – while often at the same time, still charging the same original price or even upping it further. Shrinkflation has become a very regular thing now. Shops and supermarkets do not tell their customers that they are doing it. They just sneak it on their customers in deception.

Shrinkflation by some businesses, is tried to be excused as they claim with merit in some situations, that the price of component parts to make their own end products, have increased. For example, the price of the beans needed to make chocolate has fluctuated upwards in recent times. However, many companies appear to be taking advantage of the now common practise, in order to additionally increase their operating margin and profitability whilst maintaining their sales volume.

Consumer bodies have been critical of shrinkflation because it has the effect of reducing product value by unadvertised stealth. The reduction in pack sizes and previously available quantities are not to be immediately obvious to regular consumers. The companies don’t want their customers to really notice the change. An unchanged price means that consumers are not alerted to the higher unit price. Their stealth activities negatively affect consumers’ ability to make informed buying choices. It’s widely known that consumers are deterred more by rises in prices than by reductions in pack sizes, so the latter change often doesn’t catch their eye or alerts their mind.

Suppliers and retailers have been more called upon to be upfront with customers but governments across the world have done bugger all in creating protective legislation, as of yet, to protect their citizens from the stealth activities of the companies. The people that do notice the Shrinkflation activities, increasingly feel ripped-off while political parties refuse to protect them year on year.

According to Ratula Chakraborty, a professor of business management, they should be legally obliged to notify shoppers when pack sizes have been reduced. Proper legal created legislation would ensure this would happen – but governments, often in bed with big business, won’t do what need to be done as soon as possible. Both, the businesses and the political parties keep their mouths shut and head down on the matter. Shrinkflation stealth activities have been allowed to be got away with, for years. In on example, the UK Office for National Statistics wrote in 2019, “We identified 206 products that shrank in size and 79 that increased in size between September 2015 and June 2017“.

Examples Of Shrinkflation.

  • In 2010, Kraft reduced its 200g Toblerone bar to 170g.
  • Coffee sold in 1 lb (453.6g) bags shrank to 400 g or smaller in the 1980s
  • Tetley tea bags were sold in boxes of 88 instead of 100.
  • Nestlé reduced its After Eight Mint Chocolate Thins box from 200g to 170g.
  • Cadbury’s Crunchie were sold in packs of three instead of four.
  • In 2003, Dannon shrunk its yogurt containers from 8 ounces to 6 ounces.
  • In January 2009, Häagen-Dazs announced that it would be reducing the size of their ice cream cartons in the US from 16 US fl oz (470 ml) to 14 US fl oz (410 ml).
  • Birds Eye potato waffles were reduced from a 12 pack to a 10 pack.
  • In 2015, Cadbury Fingers removed two fingers from each pack, reducing the weight of a pack from 125 grams to 111 grams.
  • In July 2015, a tub of Cadbury Roses which weighed 975g in 2011, was reduced to under 730g, while a tub of Cadbury Heroes was reduced to 695g. However the price remained the same at around £9.
  • In 2016, Terry’s Chocolate Orange was reduced from 175g to 157g by changing the moulded shape of each segment to leave an air gap between each piece.
  • In 2016, Mondelez International again reduced the size of the UK 170 g Toblerone bar to 150g, while the 400 g bar was reduced to 360g. This was done by enlarging the gap between the chocolate triangles.
  • In 2017, Milka Alpine Milk and Milka Nuts & Raisins got reduced from 300g to 270g while Triolade got reduced from 300g to 280g, all without changing the bag size.
  • In 2017, McVities reduced the number of Jaffa Cakes in every standard packet from 12 to 10, raising the cost per cake from 9.58p to 9.9p
  • In 2018, Koopmans reduced the weight of their buckwheat flour packages by 20% from 500g to 400g – claiming ‘renewed’ on the package, without specifying that ‘renewed’ only meant that less product was provided. It is unknown whether wholesale prices were affected, while it is certain that retail pricing remained exactly the same.
  • In 2020, Unilever reduced the size of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream tubs in Europe, going from 500 ml to 465 ml, whilst still retaining the RRP of around 5 euros. Despite this, Unilever has publicly criticized rival ice-cream brands for shrinkflation in the United States, where Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream is still sold in pint-sized (473 ml) tubs.
  • In 2021, Sainsbury’s replaced their 80g Spicy Thai Crackers with a 40g packet, but the price was less than halved resulting in a by-weight price increase of over 15%.
  • In 2021, General Mills shrunk their family-sized boxes of cereal down from 19.3 ounces to 18.1 ounces. That means the unit cost per ounce of the product has increased, but for the consumer, the average price in the United States remained $2.99.
  • In 2022, Procter & Gamble reduced the number of double-ply sheets per roll of toilet paper from 264 to 244 sheets in the 18-count mega package. This amounts to approximately a roll and a half in the 18-count package.
  • In 2022, Unilever reduced the size of Dove soap bars from 100g to 90g, with most retailers either maintaining the same price or increasing prices.
  • Fish fingers were typically sold in packages of 450g. In recent years several manufacturers switched to offer them in packages of 405g instead.
  • CVS Pharmacy reduced the amount of Dextromethorphan and Guaifenesin in their 4 oz Tussin DM cough formulation by half, and then doubled the recommended amount per dosage from 10 ml to 20 ml. The 8 oz bottle remains at previous concentration. The 4 oz bottle is now therapeutically equivalent to one-fourth of the usual 8 oz bottle. The 4oz bottle retails at $1.70/oz and the 8 oz bottle retails at $1.16/oz.
  • In 2023, researchers conducted a study on products known to have shrunk in size but not in price. They found that the average reduction percentage of the product sizes was 11.84%, which the researchers then applied to various other products to demonstrate the absurd effect of shrinking product sizes.
  • In 2023, Mars, Incorporated reduced the weight of their Whiskas cat food by 15%, reducing the weight of each pouch from 100g to 85g. The price of the packs did not change. This was applicable to their 12×100 g, 40×100 g, 80×100 g, and individual products for both the “in jelly” and “in gravy” products.
  • Irish company Tayto used to supply shops with bags of Tayto crisps that had within, 16 smaller packets. This used to be sold in Ireland for €4. They have been caught quietly changing inner content downward to 15 packets – while the price has increased to €5 in many retail outlets.
  • Bertolli, like several other brands, has reduced the olive oil content in its olive oil spreads from 21% to 10%.
  • Guacamole -The ingredients used to include 80% avocado and 5% red onion but now show 77% avocado and an unspecified amount of onion.
  • Aldi Specially Selected Pesto Rosso 190g This used to contain 33% extra virgin olive oil and 26% rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes; now it is 27% extra virgin olive oil and 23% rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Tesco Soft Extra Large Tissues – These had been 300mm x 260mm but measured 280mm x 235mm in a Guardian Money’s test.
  • Tesco Springforce Jumbo Kitchen Towel Sheets used to be 210mm x 210mm but are now 195mm x 200mm.
  • Aldi Bramwells Real Mayonnaise – It used to list 9% egg yolk but now lists 6% egg and 1.5% egg yolk.
  • Tesco’s chicken nuggets – A year ago, just under a euro, larger bag, more in it. Disappeared for a while in some shops. Came back months later, smaller bags, less quantity. Price €1.35. 4 months later again, now €2.00+