For years, we’ve suspected that our favourite products are getting smaller. And you know what? Our paranoia was completely justified.
It isn’t just the less-than-flattering phenomenon among chaps when we go swimming in cold water. Shrinkification is a genuine phenomenon that’s taking retail by storm. Just not in a good way.
It turns out, as reported in The Washington Post, consumers are absorbing higher labour and materials costs in the form of packaging and containers that are thinner, smaller and lighter, and in as much able to hold less of the product – be it sodas, paper towels or ice cream. Tasty, tasty ice-cream.
With tissues and paper products among the items US consumer advocates say have gotten smaller in recent years, multinational personal care behemoth Kimberly-Clark, the parent company of Kleenex, will begin raising prices on its branded toilet paper, nappies, and other household items.
Companies like Kimberly-Clark are seeking out ways to offset rising labour and materials costs without scaring off customers in a slick, morally questionable practice called ‘shrinkflation,’ a form of retail ‘camouflage’ where the same product – in less volume – is sold to the consumer at the same price as its previous, larger incarnation.
Economists and consumer advocates are expecting it to become more pronounced as inflation ratchets up, having an impact on everything from potato chips to tissues.
Consumer Advocate Edgar Dworsky told the Post that many factors were at play for the corporations. “When the price of raw materials, like coffee beans or paper pulp goes up, manufacturers are faced with a choice: Do we raise the price knowing consumers will see it and grumble about it? Or do we give them a little bit less and accomplish the same thing? Often it’s easier to do the latter.”
Shrinkflation even impacts cat food. Late last year, Royal Canin went from manufacturing 168g cans to 145g versions of the same product, without lowering its price. Royal Canin, which is a subsidiary of Mars Inc., said it reduced some product sizes “to keep up with unprecedented demand” for pet food during the pandemic.
So, packaging can be parcelled in with ‘basic decency’ and ‘moral standing in the universe’ as things that seem to be shrinking.
On the home front, Tiny Teddies and Shapes that used to come in a 10 pack were shrunk down to eight, and Freddo Frogs that were once 15g are now 12g.
Freddo Frogs are smaller now? Someone’s crossed a line, and THEY MUST PAY.
(By ‘they’, we mean ‘you’, and by ‘must’, we mean ‘will’.)