/ Food & Drink, Money, Shopping

Products are getting smaller while shopping bills get bigger

Mini cupcake

We have discovered yet more household products that have shrunk, while the price has stayed the same or even increased. Are any of your favourite products shrinking?

In our investigation into shrinking products, we found a pack of Birds Eye beef burgers with four fewer burgers in it than before – 12 down from 16. We also discovered Pledge furniture polish had shrunk by almost a fifth. And we found you get fewer Dettol anti bacterial wipes and even fewer crisps than you used to.

For most of the products we investigated, the price stayed the same after the shrink. The biggest decrease in product size we found was 25%, while the smallest was Walkers cheese and onion crisps that decreased by 6%. Check out our gallery at the bottom of this post for some of the shrinking products we found.

How do you feel about shrinking products?

It’s certainly a topic that gets people hot under the collar. Last time I wrote about shrinking products on Which? Conversation, over 100 people joined the debate and some very strong views were expressed. Alan Pearcey felt that he was being tricked:

‘Manufacturers and retailers are equally complicit in this blatant, underhanded, conspiracy to confuse and cheat those who represent their very survival – their customers – with this latest ‘smoke and mirrors’ practice.’

M. would rather see prices go up:

‘I would prefer them to raise prices so we could see the knife coming, rather than put up with this devious practise.’

Frugal Ways wondered if shrinking products avoided being picked up by price index measures:

‘It’s clear to me that smaller pack sizes for the same price is an actual price rise, yet this sharp practice does not impact on inflation, RPI, CPI figures, etc. These figures are used nationally by governments, councils, et al, to calculate benefits, wages, etc.’

So why are products shrinking?

We looked at branded products (eg not supermarket own-brand), using independent shopping website mysupermarket.co.uk. We asked the makers of these products why they had shrunk them, and were generally told that, in the face of rising costs they choose to shrink products rather than increase prices.

Many of the manufacturers we spoke to said supermarkets ultimately set prices. We asked whether they reduced the wholesale price or set a lower recommended retail price when the product shrank. Most manufacturers either said they didn’t do this or wouldn’t comment. So it’s perhaps not surprising the prices in supermarkets didn’t drop.

Would you prefer a price increase or a smaller product? How important is it that manufacturers and retailers make it clear to shoppers when a product has reduced in size?

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Comments
ryan noble says:
23 November 2013

I have just noticed that the EAT NATURAL bars feel defiantly allot smaller, will stop buying them now,

Kevin Dixon says:
14 January 2014

In 2012 I bought 60 tins of tuna from ASDA over a period of 1 month.
The offer was 4 tins wrapped together in plastic for £3.
Each tin weighed 185g net.

I finished eating the 60 tins in 2013 and then decided to replenish my stock.

Great … ASDA still had the offer …. 4 tins for £3.
Then I checked the net weight of each the 4 tins … They were now 160g net.
So, as is often the case … instead of putting up the price … they (food companies/supermarkets) use a stealth method, giving you less product, hoping you won’t notice.
To be fair to ASDA, they are still one of the cheapest … if not THE cheapest UK supermarket.

Kevin Dixon says:
14 January 2014

I checked the ASDA website … January 2014: ASDA still has the offer …. but now 4 tins for £4 (was £3 in 2013).
So the previous weight reduction (185g per tin to 160g) is now followed by a price hike, up 25p a tin from 75p to 100p.
That is on their website, in-store prices might vary.

Gretal says:
14 January 2014

I’ve just discovered another shrinking product done by stealth. I bought a couple of bunches of daffodils from Sainsbury’s last week, was annoyed to discover each bunch only contained 9 stems instead of the usual 10 & the price was £2 a bunch – 50p more than the same product at Asda for 10 stems. I won’t be buying any more of them!

Shrinking products seems to be gathering pace in 2014; gone are 2 litre Coca Cola now replaced with ‘New Size’ 1.75 litre, but the price is still the same. Walkers Crinkles and Deep Ridged were in packs of 6, now in packs of 5 but the price remains the same.

Malc.Moore says:
15 March 2014

As I do not shop at ASDA on a Regular Basis I was most surprised to see the size of Denmark made Streamline strawberry Jam which contains 65% fruit against most 45% or 50% they did have a UK operation but closed it down the Jar was extremely small.65% Fruit is Quite good beating Stute Dibetic Jam but as fruit naturally contains sugar can we really believe the sugar content?.Like fat content Traffic light labelling although I am not a diabetic I do try to regulate how much my sugar content is.

Malc.Moore says:
15 March 2014

My post on 29 April 2013 at 12:07 am About Iceland 100% Beefburgers I am pleased to report it appears that those Quarter pounders have improved perhaps that is down to sales.Its always pleasing if a product has improved and since Barbie Season is almost here i thought worth a mention.

Jeanette says:
16 March 2014

Just noticed that Walkers crinkle crisps multipack bag have reduced from 6 packs to 5 ….. no price differece though!

LizzyF says:
16 March 2014

Hovis Best of Both and Warburton’s Half and Half loaves have both decreased in size from 800g to 750g with no decrease in price – although both have been on multibuy offers to disguise the price rise. I always thought that large loaves had to be 800g, obviously not! I have voted with my feet and have swapped to 800g wholemeal loves, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they shrank soon too.

Gretal says:
17 March 2014

This devious underhand practise of reducing the content is not solely restricted to food. I discovered several weeks ago that while everyone else still sells bunches of 2×10 daffodils for £1 (95p in Lidl – if you can stand their abysmal attitude to customer service!), Sainsburys are now selling 2 bunches of 8 for a £1.

Cigarettes no longer 20 in a packet; now 19 in a packet but the price remains the same!

Non Smoker; however partner asked for 20 cigarettes only to be informed by the vendor that packs of 20 are no longer available!

Yannis says:
24 March 2014

I discovered the Oreo biscuits shrunk but only have evidence on the 185g going down to 157.
http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/groceries/index.jsp?bmUID=1395653139813
http://www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=268347830
with prices remain untouched.

From 75.1p/100g (non-discounted) gone to £0.89/100g an increase of 18.5%.

Unbelievable.

Aunt Bessie’s crinkle cut chips down from 1kg to 970gm same price as 1kg was £2.20
Aunt Bessie’s cut chips down from 1kg to 750gm £1.65 = £2.20 / kg

Aunt Bessie’s family size Bramley apple pie was 605g now 550g

I’ve emailed them asking for an explanation, although I’m not expecting a reasonable answer.

Malc.Moore says:
24 March 2014

I looked at Aunt Bessie’s family size Bramley apple pie but quickly put it down why percentage of Apple also the Amount of Sugar.If the food industry wants to make savings they could make a good start by reducing Sugar levels in our food.If it is not sweet enough we can add our own.It should be the consumer that makes the choice about sugar levels not the food manufacturer.

I got a reply

“Our Family Apple Pie 605g was only ever produced as a promotional product with “10% extra free” up until late 2012, due to the shelf – life of this product there could still be some of the 605g variation available from retailers.

I hope this answers your query.”

Although why a company would wish to offer 10 % extra free and not mention it on the packaging is beyond me.

I think I can smell something normally produced from cows.

With inflation, the choice manufacturers have is to increase prices or reduce sizes. We seem to be more sensitive to price increases whereas a reduced pack size goes largely unnoticed. This is deceit.
However, just an idle thought – maybe someone thinks it is in our best interests as obesity becomes an ever-increasing problem. Perhaps these foods should be labelled “New smaller pack for a healthier life”?

I certainly think they should be forced to clearly label products as “new smaller pack”. Then at least we could make informed choices.

Malcolm wrote: ‘With inflation, the choice manufacturers have is to increase prices or reduce sizes.’

There is an alternative, and that is to keep the prices and pack sizes the same and for the retailer and/or manufacturer to make smaller profits. Some are a little bit too greedy.

I have suggested that manufacturers should mark their products ‘New smaller pack’ but perhaps it would be a good idea to make the link with health, particularly with foods laden with fat, sugars and salt.

One product has followed this sort of path – and more. That is our labour – many do the same (product size – hours) for the same or less (price – wages and salaries). We don’t much like that though!

As a result of rising labour costs, we now buy many products from overseas.

One of the problems is that we often think in terms of hours worked rather than productivity. I have employed staff that were highly productive and others that worked roughly the same hours and achieved very little.

I bought some BeRo plain and self-raising flour to do some baking for a charity event. The self-raising flour is prominently marked ‘NEW 1.25KG’, so I knew the pack size has been decreased from 1.5kg at the time of purchase, though the price was the same as the 1.5kg pack of plain flour.

It would be better to indicate that the pack size has been decreased, but at least the change in size is conspicuous.

Gretal says:
25 March 2014

Just discovered more shrinking products. Last year certainly in Asda they were selling packs of Cadburys Caramel Bunnies containing 2 Bunnies at – I think around 65p each or on almost permanent offer of 2 for £1, i.e. 4 bunnies for £1. This year I’ve noticed the same offer – expect the Bunny has lost its partner & there’s only one in the pack now :(. The same thing applies to Malteser Bunnies, not sure how much they were last year – around the same 65p mark I’d guess. I’ve just seen one Malteser Bunny for 69p or 2 for £1 in the Co-Op.

Are bunnies becoming extinct??!!

Malc.Moore says:
7 May 2014

Last night in ASDA I bought a Tin of Pineapple Pieces 340g at 33p from bottom shelf same size Tin
middle shelf same as New Label 275g at 33p Supermarket Tricks.

steveo says:
5 June 2014

The one that sticks in my mind is Nesttle Shreded Wheat there used to be 3 ‘pillows’ in a sleave(and i rember they ran an advertising campaighn fronted by Ian Botham “can you eat 3 Shreded Wheat” plus you had a strugle to fit 2 in a bowl. Now there only 2 in a sleave and they now float lost in a sea of milk !!!

Pilgrim’s choice cheese used to be sold in 350g packs now 310g the price is still the same if not higher.

I have emailed them asking them to explain the reasoning behind this move, but have yet to receive a response.

I shd be glad if anyone can definitively confirm
that ‘pork’ used in meat products like sausages
can include fats, gristle and whatever else that
may be permitted to be so included within the
said definition.