Shrinkflation: why products at the grocery store are giving less for the same price

SALISBURY, Md. – It’s not just you; things are getting more expensive at the grocery store. If the products you know and love are staying the same price you might want to check the package and see if manufacturers have shrunk the size. It’s a move known as “shrinkflation,” where the cost or size stays the same but the volume of the product decreases.

The move represents the latest response from food companies looking to cut costs and keep profits up. Director of SU’s Beacon Program John Hickman says it’s a move companies prefer taking over raising prices.

“Most people look at the per-unit price, not the per-unit volume prices, but also people have in their minds set price points for products, so if a manufacturer can keep their product at this price they expect consumers to buy it versus changing to an alternative product,” Hickman said.

However, he says there is a point where a product shrinks too much too fast, where customers will simply switch brands, or not buy the product altogether.

“There is an inflection point where they say I’m no longer willing to pay this price for a good,” he said.

One example of a recent product downsizing; is Gatorade. The brand recently switched from 32-ounce bottles to a new bottle that holds 28 ounces, for the same price.

Hickman tells us the best way to avoid paying higher prices:  ditching name brands, and shopping for products that are sold by weight.

“The target in this is primarily those brand loyal people or product loyal customers who go in and say I always buy this brand,” he said adding “When you are going through an era of shrinkflation that is when you want to start comparing with store brands or other name brands to the one you buy and look for those tradeoffs.”

He tells us luckily many packages do go back up to their original sizing when inflationary periods end, and when they do, the companies won’t be as subtle as when reducing the size.

“Rarely do they say ‘now smaller’ but when they are delivering more product for the same price you can expect to see them touting it,” Hickman said.



Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland, Virginia