From fewer chips per bag to less detergent per bottle, here’s how shrinkflation is impacting you

From fewer chips per bag to less detergent per bottle, here’s how shrinkflation is impacting you

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y – The Frito-Lays snack company made waves this week with a particularly honest announcement: Its best-selling bags of Doritos will be a little lighter from this point forward as the brand is taking five chips out of every package in a company-wide effort to cut costs.

“Inflation is hitting everyone,” a Frito-Lays spokesperson told Quartz, a website that analyzes the global economy. “We took just a little bit out of the bag so we can give you the same price and you can keep enjoying your chips.”

Of course, the company is blaming the half-ounce reduction on inflation and talking about supply chain snafus. But this trend is really nothing new. Bags of chips, gallons of ice cream and even rolls of toilet paper have slowly been shrinking over the past decade, while prices have remained the same.

Cunning manufacturers and those deceptive Keebler elves thought consumers wouldn’t notice, but they eventually did.

“Consumers check the price every time they buy, but they don’t check the net weight,” Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts, who has been tracking product sizes for more than 30 years, told the Washington Post. “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.”

There’s a name for it — shrinkflation — and it’s not exactly fraud. It’s simply a form of retail camouflage that has become undoubtedly more pronounced in this radically unstable economic climate. And there’s really nothing consumers can do to combat the backdoor price increase.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that within the last six months Procter & Gamble has decreased the size of its Gain detergent from 165 ounces to 154 ounces, same bottle, same price. And Charmin toilet paper dropped its “mega” rolls from 264 double-ply sheets to 244 sheets. “Super mega” rolls shrank from 396 sheets to 366 sheets.

Cottonelle, Kleenex and Huggies do it too, the Inquirer said, as does Hershey’s, Gatorade — and even McDonald’s.

According to Crest has taken one squeeze of toothpaste out of every tube; Keebler has taken almost two ounces of cookies out of every package; Quaker has downsized its boxes of oatmeal by two portions, and Ziploc has removed four bags out of every package. Dial liquid soap and Wheat Thins crackers are also shrinking: Those brands have dropped by six ounces and two ounces, respectively.

News of the shrinkage comes as the Bureau of Labor announced that inflation rates rose to 7.9% during the month of February — the highest spike seen in four decades — meaning prices rose 0.8% that month and nearly 8% over the last year.

Dworsky explained to CNN Business that increased production costs spurred by those astronomical rates are at the root of the problem.

“Downsizing happens during times of high inflation, because companies that make everyday products are also paying more for raw materials, production and delivery costs,” he explained.

It’s troubling, experts say. But there could be one silver lining. As bags of chips and cookies continue to downsize, America’s obesity rate could begin to downsize too.

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