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  • Clarissa Bautista

Shrinkflation: The Inflation You’re Not Supposed to See

The surge in inflation has significantly strained consumers, particularly when it comes to essential goods like groceries. As food suppliers and companies deal with increased costs, including production and distribution, they’ve raised prices on many items while also resorting to a classic tactic: shrinkflation. This tactic is identifiable through the deduction of packaging or offering a smaller quantity while keeping costs the same. Or, in recent cases, increasing prices.

For those not paying attention, these changes might fly under the radar. However, for consumers looking to stretch their money as far as it goes, this can affect household budgets. As well as alter the way consumers plan, shop, and manage their day-to-day expenses.

Shrinkflation appeals to manufacturers because they know customers will notice price increases but won’t notice net weights or the little details like the number of sheets on a roll of toilet paper. Companies can also draw attention away from downsizing, like marking smaller packages with bright new labels that draw shoppers’ eyes.

That is exactly what Fritos did.

Fritos Scoops bags marked “Party Size” used to be 18 ounces but are now advertising “Party Size” Fritos Scoops that are 15.5 ounces — and more expensive. Old El Paso taco shells come in the same “Family Size” packaging; however, the taco shells have drastically changed in length and size. They are much smaller than before, making for an unfulfilling dinner for your average family.

Chocolate-covered ice cream bars are not filled, Girl Scout cookie boxes are gradually getting smaller, and sandwich cookies are not stuffed, leaving a lot of empty space. These are just a few more examples of the impact of downsizing companies are enacting to grapple with rising costs for ingredients, packaging, labor, and transportation. Shrinkflation isn’t new, but it proliferates in times of high inflation.

Some customers who have noticed the downsizing share examples on social media and post videos to TikTok to display product differences. Others say shrinkflation is causing them to change their shopping habits.

Cynthia Cruz, a mother of three, commented about the downsizing, saying, “It’s frustrating to grab a box of cereal or bag of chips knowing that I’m paying more at the register and when I get home I find the portions are a lot smaller compared to two or three years ago…it’s unsettling when you have three kids and the groceries don’t last like they used to because they’re getting older and it’s gotten so expensive.”

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