/ Food & Drink

Shrink wrapped – why are products getting smaller?

Chocolate bar with tape measure

Have you noticed any of your favourite products shrinking in size? From bars of chocolate to bars of soap, many manufacturers are responding to rising costs by giving us less. Is this a sneaky tactic or fair game?

Google ‘Curly Wurly’ and you’ll find lots of discussions on its size. Has the Curly Wurly really got smaller over the decades or have I just got bigger?

I’m not too sure! Whatever that answer, one thing is for sure – some products have got smaller.

Shrink to fit

When we tested washing-up liquids in September 2009, for example, we discovered Procter & Gamble had reduced the bottle size of the iconic Fairy Original from 500ml to 450ml – but the price had actually gone up.

And while I probably shouldn’t be surprised, I was slightly miffed when I got home to find my local shop had swapped my usual two-pint bottle of milk for a new one-litre sized bottle… but the price remained exactly the same.

A recent article on the BBC highlights how widespread this is becoming. Imperial Leather soap bars have just been reduced from 125g to 100g and Toblerone has ditched one triangle of chocolate so it can still be sold for a pound in Poundland.

And, as this email from one of our commenters shows, others are getting concerned, too:

‘I was reading a consumer mag in the USA which gave lots of examples of manufacturers reducing the size/volume/weight of their products- without explanation.

They challenged the manufacturers who owned up – but said their costs had increased and consumers would prefer smaller sizes than increased prices. Foodstuffs featured heavily.’

Why aren’t manufacturers honest?

I completely understand that manufacturing costs have gone up, but should manufacturers automatically make things smaller so we don’t have to pay more for the product? More importantly, shouldn’t they be honest and tell us about it?

I understand the argument that smaller-sized junk food is a good thing from a health perspective, but if they’re messing with the size of my chocolate bar then I think manufacturers could at least be transparent about it.

Would I pay the same for less? Well, yes. I have done before, and probably will continue to do so – but that doesn’t mean I won’t grumble about it, or think it’s sneaky.

If I knew beforehand, maybe I would think twice about buying that product, which is probably the whole reason we’re not told. While I’m not concerned about losing 50ml of washing-up liquid (no matter how many extra plates I can wash), I do want the maximum amount of chocolate for my money.

Are you bothered that some items appear to be getting smaller, and do you have other examples of shrinking products? Maybe someone has an old Curly Wurly wrapper and could settle that debate for me once and for all…

What types of products have you seen shrinking?

Food (45%, 588 Votes)

Drinks (21%, 274 Votes)

Cleaning (19%, 252 Votes)

Beauty (9%, 124 Votes)

Other (share in comments) (6%, 82 Votes)

Total Voters: 691

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Comments
Member

Weren’t Walkers caught out by this not so long ago?

People started to complain that the grammage (?) in their crisp packet had eroded by about 5 grams over 1 year. So basically the current normal size packets are the new ones they had to create, and the small packets we used to get are now in the multi packs only.

Looks like we have to keep a close eye on them all 🙂

Member

Less product whilst staying the same price, is a price rise.
This method of increasing profit is hiding the true cost of inflation and deceiving the customer.
Forcing customers to remember prices per weight of product is nigh on impossible to do, but if your T-bags are £4 one week then £4.50 the next, customers can easily spot it.

Smaller pack sizes – vosene, washing powders (changing to washes per pack whilst dropping the weight of powder in the box), various chocolate bars, boxes of cans of lager, fabric conditioners (dropping pack size then advertising smaller bottles on gondola ends as a sale, at the original price must be wrong?), cotton wool (trying to hide the decrease in size with a 2 for £2 asda!), sliced loaves (reported to have less slices in them), the list is endless.

Supermarkets have a monopoly now that so many independants have been forced to close, those that remain can beat the supermarkets on prices of named brands, but are frozen out by town planning depts, with supermarket’s receiving preferential treatment.
Until this monopoly is addressed, they can do pretty much what they like.

One question I would ask though, is where are trading standards in all of this?
Which companies have they investigated and what were their findings/action?
I can’t recall any instances of them acting being reported in the media for a long long time.

Member

‘my local shop had swapped my usual two-pint bottle of milk for a new two-litre sized bottle… but the price remained exactly the same.’

I think I’d be very pleased … don’t you mean swapped 4 pints for 2 litres? 🙂

Member

I saw that but assumed that Lisa had been shopping in Tesco. 🙂

Member

Well spotted both, fixed that now! And I’m not sure Tesco would be that generous…

Member

I would be very pleased if they’d swapped it that way around 😀 – if only!

Member

We’ve now added a multiple choice poll to this Convo folks. What types of products have you seen shrinking?

Member
Jennifer T says:
16 June 2011

Tesco water softener tablets have shrunk by 2g! Whatever the manufacturer/retailer’s reason for using this method of increasing prices, it’s counterproductive if it makes the customer feel cheated – any trust is gone.

Member
Debs says:
17 June 2011

Has anyone else noticed how big the cardboard roll in the middle of a toilet roll is getting?