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Shrinkflation
What retailers think of shrinking grocery packs

Most changes will go unnoticed by most customers - as a retailer, knowing that the products have reduced might help you to spot a change in the popularity of a product and make a switch to a different manufacturer if required.

In the light of the current financial climate, with price increases for all households, we looked at the hidden price increases, the ones that are more difficult to spot – when manufacturers make the pack size smaller to save on materials, whilst keeping the price point the same so that it is more difficult for the consumer to identify. Shrinkflation is not new for 2022 – we looked at packet size shrinkage in groceries over the last couple of years and asked retailers what they thought.

57.1% of retailers said that their customers were aware of pack size changes but felt that they understood. 42.9% responded that customers were made angry by the changes. No store responded that the customers didn’t notice. Half of retailers felt that pack sizes getting smaller is better than constant price rises and 11% felt it helped sales continue to come in.

What do customers think about reduced pack sizes?
What difference does it make to your store if the packet sizes are reduced?

38.9% of respondents said the practice of shrinking packs feels a bit sneaky. One store responded “I think some products have taken this too far and are now similar to a fun size.” Another store added that the practice is “Not totally dishonest - either a price rise or shrink the product - a choice has to be made” while another commented “I understand why it is done, but when the majority of my customer base is students, they notice and often complain.”

Biscuits

In January 2020 McVities reduced the weight of each Gold biscuit from 22g to 18g. This equates to a 20p price increase.

In Summer 2020 Caramel Digestives moved from 267g to 250g (-6.4%). This equates to a 11p price increase. Maryland cookies dropped from 230g to 200g (-13%).

Soft Drinks

Robinsons Fruit drinks moved from a 1 litre bottle to 900ml. Apple & Blackcurrant was first seen in early 2019 and the other flavours had all moved to the smaller format by Autumn 2020.

In Spring 2021, Lucozade Energy also moved from a 1 litre bottle to 900ml. As this was price marked at £1.50, this equates to a price increase of 17p.

Ice Cream

Classic hand-held ice creams moved from 120ml to 110ml in January 2020. All are price marked at 75p so this equates to a price increase of 6p per ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s tub size dropped from 500ml to 465ml, a reduction of 7%.

Shrinkflation - Grocery - Cereals
Date Brand Previous Size New Size Reduction
Spring 2019Coco Pops510g480g59.%
Spring 2020 Fruit and Fibre750g700g6.7%
Spring 2020Alpen550g500g9.1%
Spring 2021Cheerios375g370g1.3%
Summer 2021Oreo Os350g320g8.6%
Snacks

Butterkist Popcorn dropped from 85g to 76g. This equates to a price increase of 12p in Spring 2019.

In Spring of 2020 Doritos £1 bags slimmed from 80g to 70g. This equates to a price increase of 14p.

Wotsits £1 bags dropped from 68g to 60g. This equates to a price increase of 12p. Monster Munch & Squares £1 bags dropped from 68g to 60g. This equates to a price increase of 13p.

In Spring 2021 Hula Hoops Big Hoops drop from 80g to 70g. This equates to a price increase of 14p.


Yoghurt & Pot desserts.

During the Summer in 2019 Muller Crunch Corner drop from 135g to 130g, Muller Fruit Corner drop from 150g to 143g and Muller Light drop from 175g to 160g.

The primary reason for shrinkflation is the increase in production costs. Rather than pass the costs on to the consumer and risk losing a sale because the consumer will notice the price increase, manufacturers reduce the size instead. A retailer in the South West commented that shrinkflation is “just a fact of life in 2022” and another commented that it’s “better than an increase in price.”

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