How ‘shrinkage’ makes what we buy SMALLER

It’s the inflation you shouldn’t see.

From toilet paper to yogurt and coffee to corn chips, manufacturers are quietly shrinking packaging without cutting prices. It’s called ‘shrink inflation’ and it’s accelerating globally.

In the US, a small box of Kleenex now contains 60 tissues; a few months ago, there were 65. Chobani Flips yogurts have shrunk by more than 10 percent.

In the UK, Nestle has downsized its Nescafe Azera Americano coffee cans from 100 grams to 90 grams. In India, a piece of Vim dishwashing liquid has shrunk from 155 grams to 135 grams.

Shrinkage is not new, experts say. But it rages on in times of high inflation as companies grapple with rising costs for ingredients, packaging, labor and transportation. Global consumer price inflation rose by an estimated 7 percent in May, a pace S&P Global says is likely to continue through September.

“It comes in waves. We’re in a tidal wave right now because of inflation,” said Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts, who has documented shrinkage on his Consumer World website for decades.

Dworsky started noticing smaller boxes in the grain aisle last year, and the shrinkage has exploded from there.

Camera iconFrom corn chips to Gatorade, manufacturers are quietly shrinking package sizes without cutting prices. Credit: AP

He can cite dozens of examples, from Cottonelle Ultra Clean Care toilet paper, which has shrunk from 340 sheets per roll to 312, to Folgers coffee, which reduced the 51-ounce container to 43.5 ounces but still says it’s up to will make 400 cups. (Folgers says it uses a new technology that results in lighter beans.)

Dworsky said shrink-flation appeals to manufacturers because they know customers will notice price increases, but fail to keep up with net weight or small details, such as the number of sheets on a roll of toilet paper. Companies can also use tricks to divert attention from downsizing, such as highlighting smaller packages with bright new labels that grab shoppers’ attention.

That’s what Fritos did. Bags of Fritos Scoops marked “Party Size” used to be 18 ounces; some are still for sale at a Texas grocery store chain. But almost every other major chain now advertises “Party Size” Fritos Scoops that are 15.5 ounces — and more expensive.

PepsiCo did not respond when asked about Fritos. But it did acknowledge the shrinkage of Gatorade bottles. The company recently started phasing out 32-ounce bottles in favor of 28-ounce bottles, which taper in the middle to make them easier to hold. The switch has been years in the making and has nothing to do with the current economic climate, PepsiCo said. But it didn’t respond to the question of why the 28-ounce version is more expensive.

Similarly, Kimberly-Clark — which makes both Cottonelle and Kleenex — did not respond to requests for comment on the reduced pack sizes.

#shrinkage #buy #SMALLER

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