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Shrinkflation: the food and drink items that have shrunk but aren't any cheaper

Shrinkflation: the food and drink items that have shrunk but aren't any cheaper

New research has revealed the everyday groceries that have shrunk in size but haven't fallen in price at the supermarkets since Brexit vote.

Reena Sewraz

Household money

Reena Sewraz
Updated on 20 February 2017

The extent of how manufacturers and supermarkets have cut the size of products but not the price will be revealed in a Channel 4’s Dispatches programme tonight.

The practice of ‘shrinkflation’ – where you get less for the same amount or more money – hit the headlines last year when Toblerone was mocked for shrinking bars so dramatically it changed the shape of the iconic chocolate entirely.

Dispatches – Supermarkets: Brexit & Your Shrinking Shop shows it’s not just a phenomenon impacting chocolates.

Research from MySupermarket for the show identifies shrinkflation on at least 25 everyday groceries including fresh herbs, sausages and packs of meat since the Brexit referendum last June.

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The products that have shrunk

Here are some of the most shocking examples the MySupermarket research uncovered for the programme. Tesco curly parsley cut from 35g to 30g but still costs 70p (Images: MySupermarket)

Last year, you could pick up a 20-pack (625g) pack of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference pork chipolatas for £2.64, but now you’ll only be able to find a smaller 16-pack (500g) that costs £3 – a 43% rise.

At Tesco, packets of curled parsley have shrunk from 35g to 30g but still cost 70p – which is effectively a 17% price rise.

Online retailer Ocado was found to have sold Thomas J.Fudge’s gourmet mini wafers (80g) for £2.25 last year.

Now the pack weighs 75g for the same price, which in effect means shoppers are paying 7% more.

At Iceland, packets of frozen chips, including steak cut and straight cut, have been reduced from 1.5kg to 1.25kg while the price has remained at £1 – which is the equivalent of a 20% price hike.

At Asda, its Butcher’s Selection turkey mini fillets have shrunk from 573g for £3.50 to 500g for £4.50, which amounts to a price rise of 47.3%.

Asda Butcher's Selection turkey fillets was £3.50 for 573g now £4.50 for 500g (Images: MySupermarket)

Alcohol has also been hit by shrinkflation. Last year Morrisons was selling 330ml bottles of WKD Original Vodka for £1, but now the bottle offers 275ml but isn’t any cheaper despite offering 55ml less.

Though the bottle is still £1, this means shoppers are paying 20% more.

What’s behind shrinkflation?

Most manufactures blame the growing trend of shrinkflation on the drop in the value of the pound since Britain voted to leave the EU, which has pushed up the cost of importing key ingredients and packaging.

Ian Wright, director general at the Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, claims in the show that producers are facing cost increases of 20% because of the weak pound.

However, critics have slated shrinkflation as an underhanded way of passing on costs to shoppers.

Ratula Chakraborty, senior lecturuer in business management at the University of East Anglia, said: “Shrinkflation is a sneaky practice because consumers are not expecting Morrisons WKD Original Vodka was 330ml for £1, now 275ml for £1 (Images: MySupermarket)any size changes so do not inspect package sizes unless there is a really noticeable difference.”

Vickie Sheriff, campaigns manager at the consumer group Which?, told Dispatches: “It’s not on. Consumers have a right to know that the packaging has decreased, that they’re getting less for their money.”

But Wright dismissed these claims: “To suggest that sneaky manufacturers or sneaky retailers are somehow causing shoppers difficulties is to massively underestimate the savviness of British shoppers and to impute motives to manufacturers and retailers that just aren’t there.”

He also pointed out: “What the consumer pays is solely the responsibility of the retailer. That’s enshrined in law.”

Repreesenting the supermarkets, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Sizing and pricing of products are regularly reviewed and are impacted by a number of factors including: the cost of raw materials, commercial negotiations with manufacturers and changing portion sizes.

"Prices and sizes of all products are clearly labelled so that customers can make informed decisions about their purchases.”

Dispatches – Supermarkets: Brexit & Your Shrinking Shop is on Channel 4 at 8pm today (20 Monday 2017).

Images: Broadbank via MySupermarket

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