Shrinkflation – Are we Being Robbed?

You may have noticed that your favourite foods have got smaller, but have gone up in price. This is called Shrinkflation. Lots of products have been subject to Shrinkflation after the vote for Brexit.

Toblerone, Snickers, Jaffa Cakes and Kitkat – all big-name brands, and have all suffered from Shrinkflation – the shrinking of a product, while its price remains the same or goes up. It’s easy to think that you’re being ripped off – last year the ONS found that 2529 products had shrunk in size but were sold for the same price between 2012 and 2017 - but it makes sense when you consider the facts. Although there has been evidence of Shrinkflation since 2009, when Mars reduced the size of the Mars bar from 62.5g to 58g but kept the price at 37p, the primary cause of Shrinkflation in recent times has been the vote for Brexit. The reason for this is that the value of the pound decreased, so the companies are forced to pay more for their ingredients, thus making the price rise, and the product to shrink, so that they continued to make a profit.

Many companies, including Monelez International, who make Cadbury and Toblerone products as well as others, and Andrex, who make toilet tissue, have defended the shrinking of products by saying that it helps to make the product more affordable, and that it helps product development. When asked about the reduction in the number of ‘mountains’ on a Toblerone bar, which caused the overall weight to reduce by 12%, Moldelez responded by saying the design was adjusted ‘to keep the product affordable’, and that it prices for ‘numerous’ ingredients were increasing. Andrex responded to a query over the fact that they had reduced the number of sheets on each roll from 280 to 221 by saying, ‘Reducing the roll by a number of sheets has helped us make this multi-million pound investment in product performance possible’.

One topic that always gets the family complaining during the festive period is the size of the classic tubs of chocolates, such as Roses, Quality Street, Heroes and Celebrations. In the 1980s, a tin of Quality Street weighed 1.7kg, but at Christmas 2015, there was a tub weighing 780g, which costs £4, and one that weighed 1.3kg, which cost £7. However, it is hard to know whether these tins have suffered from Shrinkflation, because it is a struggle to find the price of a tin from the 1980s. However, we can be sure that Quality Streets have suffered from Shrinkflation in recent years – in 2012, Nestle changed the weight from 1kg to 820g, before in 2014, the weighed was adjusted to 780g. throughout this period of time, the price stayed at £5 per tub, ignoring any store-specific deals.

Overall, many products have been affected by Shrinkflation, and there are positives and negatives to this. Some may argue that it is helping to keep the company in business, so that they can keep providing the products we know and love. However, some may think that it is just another way for the huge businesses to make more money, while we are reasonably powerless to do anything.


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