How shrinkflation is costing you more as inflation hits your back pocket

We've all heard of inflation and felt its recent effects with rising fuel prices, but there's a tricky way food is costing more without you even noticing.

Shrinkflation is a sneaky tactic where the sticker price stays the same but the product gets smaller. Some Kiwis told The Project that Griffin's Toffee Pops have less toffee in them, Bluebird chip bags seem less full, Mother Earth muesli bars were shorter and thinner, and Pringles are smaller with fewer in the tube.

The brands deny it, however, The Project's own research turned up some dainty food. New flavours of Tim Tams have nine in a pack rather than the usual 11, Cadbury creme eggs dropped a gram, and some yoghurt pottles have shrunk from 150 grams to 125g.

Finance expert Evan Lucas, head of strategy at Investsmart, said shrinkflation is actually costing you even more than inflation.

"Compared to standard inflation, we're actually seeing the price increasing. Shrinkflation tends to be slightly more aggressive," he told The Project.

"If you look at inflation right now it's very high. In food, it's about 7 to 8 percent, but if you think about it in terms of the loss of weight in the products we've just looked at, that's not 7 or 8 percent, that's 10, 12, and even as much as 20 percent reduction in weight for the same price."

Evan Lucas.
Evan Lucas. Photo credit: The Project

The pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine have caused prices to skyrocket. But it isn't going to stop with biscuits and chips. With global supply chains affected, rising fuel prices, and spikes in the cost of major commodities like wheat and fats, it's likely shrinkflation will hit staple products soon.

"The next things to start watching are things that are involved with grain, like wheat, like corn. Because of the Russia-Ukraine scenario, 30 percent of global grain supplies come out of the Black Sea," Lucas said.

To stay ahead of the shrinkflation curve, look at the unit price of items which tells you how much you're paying for the weight, for example, $1 per 100g.