When pack sizes shrink why don’t their prices?
Have you had suspicions that supermarket packs are shrinking? Well, we’ve trawled through a years worth of supermarket data to uncover the products that are shrinking – and their prices have stayed the same.
When we last asked you about this on Which? Conversation, you inundated us with examples of shrinking products.
So, we took these examples, along with the most commonly bought branded items, and checked whether their sizes had changed using data from independent grocery shopping site mysupermarket.co.uk.
We found a raft of products that had shrunk. Jars of Loyd Grossman Balti Curry Sauce have gone from 425g to 350g. Tubs of Dairylea Cheese Spread are 40g lighter. And there are two fewer nappies in a pack of Pampers Baby Dry Maxi.
In fact, we found shrinking products from most aisles of the supermarket – including laundry tablets, chicken, jam, dishwasher tablets, yoghurts and cereals.
But when we checked the prices of these smaller products, we found them for sale at the same price as before, or more per 100g, at the time the sizes changed.
What you think about shrinking products
We’ve had over 100 comments on our shrinking product Conversations, so what was said? Chris Fowler thinks manufacturers have something to answer for:
‘It is clear many manufacturers have changed the shape of bottles, jars and other containers to conceal the fact that the volume is smaller, and the weight of the product has gone down. So this process of reducing the amount of a product while keeping the price the same is underhand, and manufacturers are deliberately trying to hide it from consumers.’
Lovodale wants us to be more vocal about these pack size changes:
‘Manipulation of weights and measures instantly improves profits, confuses the public and there seems to be insufficient strong public opinion to bring about changes to a more open and honest industry.’
And KC sums up the anger felt by supermarket shoppers:
‘I don’t want to have to do a maths test to make sure I am not being ripped off every time I enter a supermarket.’
What did manufacturers and supermarkets say?
So we wanted to find out why manufacturers were shrinking their goods. When we asked, most said it was to keep prices down in the face of rising costs. Other companies said the product formulation had changed at the same time as the size.
And even though manufacturers told us that supermarkets dictated the final price, when we asked whether they had dropped the recommended retail price, those that answered said they hadn’t. As for the supermarkets themselves, they said manufacturers had reduced the sizes, and that they based their own prices on wholesale costs.
So, is shrinking a product an underhand way of raising prices? Would it be ok to shrink pack sizes if we were told about it? And what examples have you spotted?
What types of products have you seen shrinking?
Food (85%, 588 Votes)
Drinks (40%, 274 Votes)
Cleaning (36%, 252 Votes)
Beauty (18%, 124 Votes)
Other (share in comments) (12%, 82 Votes)
Total Voters: 691
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