/ Food & Drink, Money, Shopping

Products are shrinking – so why aren’t prices?

Have you noticed certain items shrinking in size? We have, and the price doesn’t always shrink accordingly. But we’ve also found some good value Best Buys from our tests, proving that shopping doesn’t have to go up.

The price of grocery shopping is rising so we’re all looking for better deals and hoping our favourite products don’t jump in price.

But we’ve found that price rises don’t always happen in the most straightforward way.

Incredible shrinking products

Cadbury’s has reduced the number of chocolates in a tin of Roses but the price remains the same. And they’re not the only ones who are giving us less and not passing on the savings.

We trawled through the Which? back data of everyday products we’ve tested and found a number of items that aren’t all they used to be.

There’s the Sainsburys Ketchup that shrank 30g – and stayed at 95p. To be fair, after we complained to Sainsburys, they apologised and have agreed to drop the price in line with the size decrease.

But not all manufacturers have responded so well to our findings. There’s also Persil Small and Mighty washing liquid – the smallest size used to be 730ml and 20 washes – it’s now 630ml and 18 washes. There hasn’t been an equal drop in the widely available retail price.

When we questioned Persil, this was their response:

‘The Small & Mighty range changed from two pack sizes (20 and 42 washes) to four (18, 28, 54 and 85 washes) – helping us offer better value. Retail prices are up to retailers; however, our larger packs sell at an average cost per wash which is lower than this time last year.’

Fairy liquid has also shrunk – from 450ml to 433ml. They say it’s just been concentrated but this assumes you know to squeeze out less.

As these changes are incremental it’s incredibly hard to spot them yourself – unless of course you have spreadsheets of data, as we do. Which is presumably why they do it – the price has effectively gone up but you never get to know about it.

Cut your bill in half…

However, if you’re worried about the rising price of your weekly shop there is some good news. We’ve also gone back through our 2011 tests and uncovered a bumper crop of good value Which? Best Buys that you can get at budget supermarkets for a fraction of the cost of leading brands.

For instance, when we checked Aldi’s dishwasher tablets they were £3.99 for 40. Brand leading Finish costs around £10.20. Likewise, we gave Aldi’s Evoo olive oil our ‘Worth Considering’ stamp – this is a bargain £2.25 – the brand leader (Filipo Berio) is more than double that.

Overall, we found buying the leading brands of ketchup, orange juice, olive oil, laundry liquid, washing powder, washing-up liquid and dishwasher tablets, would cost £38.67. For the equivalent supermarket brand Best Buys and the Worth Considering olive oil and laundry liquid you’d pay just £18.35 – a saving of 53% on your bill.

Which? Best Buys infographic

So, will you be looking out for our Best Buys and shopping around budget supermarkets to save on your shopping? Manufacturers making products smaller certainly isn’t saving us anything, so you may have to.

Personally I’d like to know when products have shrunk and be aware of what it means to the overall cost. Is it an underhand way of reducing prices? Have you got any examples of your own shrinking products or budget buys?

David Finn says:
22 March 2013

You mentioned that Filippo Berio olive oil is £4.49 I have noticed that Sainsbury nearly always have a good deal on this product

David says:
5 April 2015

Andrex have just reduced their sheet count, yet again, to 221 from 241, no price change? Thanks Andrex for helping the consumer…….NOT! I know we’ll be looking elsewhere for our next purchase, and I reckon so will many others if they find out what you’re up to.

meltedlemondrop says:
21 May 2015

Yes Whatever happended to softer, stronger and longer? Are they now going to have to change their whole advertising campaign?


It’s been reduced again, to 190 sheets per roll (Sept 2015). At this rate, it won’t be long before we’re be paying for fresh air.

Malc.Moore says:
13 April 2015

Ive just been in Aldi I was most surprised at size of frozen Petits Pious Garden Peas only 700grms at 85p now that s a smaller sized pkt when 1K was an average sized pack for most Frozen Veg.

Catnap says:
22 April 2015

I found this page after noticing that Andrex looked smaller in the pack and have decreased the number of sheets by 9%. Comments on the Andrex Facebook page indicate the quality has gone down, but I’ve not yet performed my own exhaustive tests.

I’m a one-man-band manufacturer, and have always scaled my product at 253g, with a stated weight of 250g. There’s been no price increase this year, but 3 to 5% in the past. Some of my suppliers maintain their prices for several years, while others impose hikes of 40%. No doubt the marketing experts have determined that a 10% price increase or size decrease can be “got away with” for consumer products.

Stuart says:
10 August 2015

My wife likes Chai tea, and for a long time Twinings was the choice. A pack of 50 tea bags cost £2.38. She recently asked me to get a pack and so I did. Except that the pack I had bought contained 20 tea bags and was still £2.38. I thought I had made a mistake in the pack I had chosen, but on checking Twinings website, the 50 tea bag pack is no longer available. The difference between the two packs is that it is no longer Chai, but Spicy Chai, and each teabag is individually wrapped, Oh, and you get less than half the previous pack for the same price. My wife is writing to Twinings, and I expect some fluff about new and improved product. Watch this space.

Hamish Halls says:
28 November 2016

The proposed much reduced Toblerone bar has been widely publicised, but meanwhile, behind the smokescreen, the makers have made a 10% reduction in the size of their 400gm bar to 360 gm. This is only indicated in small print on one side of the package.

Hamish Halls