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What confectionery manufacturers do to save costs
Chocolate manufacturing

Many of us have seen the headlines about the rising cost of living. The most obvious sign is rising prices, but manufacturers have another more subtle way of doing this, particularly on price marked items. They reduce the pack size, known as ‘shrinkflation’.

This is happening in a number of categories but we’ve focused on confectionery here. The following shows some of the most recent examples across a number of categories. Where a product is price marked, we have also calculated the equivalent price increase if the product had remained at the same pack size.

Back in Spring 2018, Cadbury relaunched bitesize sharing packs as 95g which were price marked at £1. Previous pack sizes ranged from 109-120g, between 13-21% smaller. Fruit-tella sharing bags shrank from 135g to 100g (-26%). As both packs were price marked at £1, this equates to a 35p price increase.

In Spring 2019 Quality Street reduced the size of the 265g carton to a considerably lighter 240g.

Summer 2019 saw Fruit-tella Koalas gelatine free sharing bag drop from 120g to 100g (-17%)

Several products were slimmed down in summer 2020. Cadbury’s Curly Wurly moved from 26g to 21.5g (-17%). Chomp bars move from 23.5g to 21g (-11%). Both packs were price marked at 25p. If the pack size had remained the same, the price would have moved to 28p for Chomp and 29p for Curly Wurly.

Nestle Aero and Milky Bar sharing bars moved from 100g to 90g. As they are all price marked at £1, this equates to a price rise of 11p.

The Haribo sharing bag range dropped from 180g to 160g (-11%). The exception was Chamallows which went from 160g to 140g. Pocket size Haribo packs dropped from 70g to 60g. As these are price marked at 50p, this equates to a price rise of 8p.

In Spring last year Skittles Chewies sharing bag changed from 196g to 176g (-10%) and Nestle Smarties sharing bag shrank from 118g to 105g (-11%).

Rowntrees made reductions across all formats of Fruit Pastilles.

Confectionery - Fruit Pastilles
Brand Previous Size New Size Reduction
Tube pack 52.5g 50g 4.8%
Tube 3 pack 3x45g 3x42.8g 4.9%
£1 Sharing pack 120g 114g 5.0%
Large sharing bag 150g 143g 4.7%
Confectionery - Chocolate bars
Brand Previous size New Size Reduction
Dairy Milk Duo 58.5g 54.4g7.0%
Boost Duo 68g 63g 7.4%
Double Decker Duo 80g 74g 7.5%
Wispa Duo 51g 47.4g 7.1%
Wispa Gold Duo 72g 67g 6.9%

Dairy Box reduced the 360g box to 326g (-9.4%) and the 180g box to 162g (-10.0%). Drumstick Squashies have been getting smaller since 2013 when the pack reduced from 160g to 145g (-9.4%). In summer 2021, there was another reduction to 131g (-9.7%).

It’s really difficult to spot shrinkflation unless you possess a super human memory – we never know in advance which product is going to undergo change. A redesign in the packaging might be a good signal that a supplier has changed something, but it’s usually only possible to tell by checking the figures. If you have concerns you could perhaps switch to a competitor brand. Fortunately, companies can’t use these tactics too often as consumers will spot it and this will reduce sales.

Confectionery - Multipacks
BrandPrevious Size New Size Reduction
Dairy Milk 4pk 4x29.3g 4x27.2g 7.0%
Boost 4pk 4x34g 4x31.5g 7.4%
Double Decker 4pk 4 x 40g 4x37.3g6.8%
Wispa 4pk4x25.5g4x23.7g7.1%
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