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Update: would you rather pay more for a product than see it shrink?

Big and small tomatoes

According to a YouGov poll, almost half of consumers would rather pay more than see their favourite products shrink. Are you among them?

Since I started working for Which? almost two years ago, the word ‘shrinkflation’ has become part of my everyday vocabulary.

And it isn’t one that trips particularly easily off my tongue, particularly when I find myself applying it to some of my favourite products – most recently to Bird’s Eye fish fingers.

To me, it’s particularly distasteful when it’s not immediately obvious a product has shrunk from the packaging.

In fact, I’ve abandoned buying Toblerone in the UK because of how its manufacturers chose to shrinkflate the bar late last year.

Should I find it in its original guise abroad, I’ll probably stock up and proffer the ‘retro’ bars to friends and family.

While I appreciate that the cost of ingredients has gone up and manufacturers need to pass these on to the consumer, I can’t see why they can’t just keep the size the same but increase the price slightly.

If the price wasn’t put up by ridiculous amounts, I know I’d suck it up for my favourites.

Shrinking feelings

And a recent YouGov poll proves I’m not alone in thinking like this.

When consumers were asked if they’d rather pay more than see their favourite products shrink, 46% said they would.

Another 17% stopped buying a product because the size went down and the price remained the same.

Conversely, 36% favoured the practice.

And although 38% said they still bought a product when they knew it had been reduced in size, almost one in five (19%) stopped buying when the price went up and the size went down.

So where do you sit on this? Would you, like me, prefer to pay more for your favourite products rather than see them subjected to shrinkflation? Or do you think the practice is preferable to rising prices?

Thinking of when a product you buy was reduced in size, did you stop buying it?

Yes, I stopped buying it because the price stayed the same (45%, 580 Votes)

No, I still bought it (19%, 243 Votes)

This hasn't happened to me yet (19%, 241 Votes)

Yes, I stopped buying it because the price increased (16%, 214 Votes)

Yes, I stopped buying it even though the price decreased too (2%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,300

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Update: 26 July 2017

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) proves that shrinkflation is becoming widespread. It found that over the past five years, as many as 2,529 products have shrunk in size but the price has remained the same.

Although toilet roll, fruit juice, beer, sausages and coffee have all been subjected to the phenomenon, it was most notable in sugar, jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery products.

And while manufacturers claim that it is down to the cost of raw materials rising, the ONS has cast doubt on this.

The European import price of sugar has actually been falling since the middle of 2014, and reached a record low in March 2017. While the price of cocoa reached a five-year high in December 2015, but has fallen sharply over the past year.

It also dismissed Brexit as a reason for shrinkflation, saying: ‘Our analysis doesn’t show a noticeable change following the referendum that would point towards a Brexit effect.

‘Furthermore, others (including Which?) had been observing these shrinking pack sizes long before the EU referendum, and several manufacturers have denied that this is a major factor.’

In response to the latest statistics, Alex Neill, Managing Director of Which? Home Services and Products, said: ‘We have found that many popular household and food products have shrunk over the years, often with the price staying the same or increasing.

‘Manufacturers and retailers should make any changes to their products clear otherwise they risk people feeling cheated.’

Are you surprised by the amount of products that have been subjected to shrinkflation? Do you think more should be done to stop the practice? Have you spotted any shrinking products?

Comments
Member

I think it partly depends on the product.

Any product that looks the same as the last time you bought it, only to open the packed and find you have paid for more space than substance is downright deception and a rip-off by manufacturers.

For the majority of products I would rather pay extra for the same size, but I noticed Waitrose had shrunk its lamb moussaka from 400g to…..

And then this gets funny as I just went to Waitrose to check and it is 400g, went to Ocado and it is 350g for the same looking product and the same price but as they both have 682 kcal per pack, one of them is wrong. So I have just gone to the freezer and I have a 400g with 682 kcal. So why have Ocado changed their description? Is the product about to shrink?

I was going to say, on this particular product, I wouldn’t mind it shrinking as it is very filling and sometimes the fox gets a treat as I can’t eat it all. But I would also like a reduction in price.

Member

Presumably there has to be a limit as to how small the item could shrink? I suppose when it comes to the point where Cadbury’s starts bundling tweezers and magnifying glasses with the Milk Tray then things have to change.

Member

I look at unit prices so it does not matter whether the price or package size changes. What I object to is reducing the amount in a pack without making the pack smaller. That is deception.

Member

Option four in the poll has bowled us a bit of a bumper, bearing in mind the preamble across the top of the chart. It’s too early in the day for me to get my head around that one.

Member

I read that and decided that I needed to sleep for another half hour:
“Yes, I stopped because the price went up even though the price went down”

Member

Gets my vote. 💤

Member

Morning! All this up and down malarky was giving me a headache, so I’ve simplified the poll a little bit 😀 Sorry about that!

Member

So what have I voted for Patrick?

Member

In each case the size had reduced, with only the price increasing, staying the same or decreasing. So in this case, the price increased even though the size had reduce