Shrinkflation and the Quality of Supermarket Private Label Brands


Do you know what Shrinkflation is? Also known as as the grocery shrink ray, deflation or package downsizing is basically when a producer changes the size, quantity or type of ingredients of a product, to avoid changing its price, so clearly giving less or worse, this is common practice in times of inflation or when a company wants to increase their margins.

As an aside, my first interaction with shrinkflation was when Mars changed in Portugal the brand of Raider chocolate to Twix chocolate, Raider was my favorite chocolate at the time and when I went to buy one they still had boxes of both Raider and Twix next to each other, with the same price but clearly one was way bigger than the other… yeah i stopped buying the chocolate ;D

So while not very pleasant, especially in inflationary periods, in some situations it is a understandable option, for example when the price of the product hasn’t change in a decade, or when you can change some ingredients for other ingredients that have the same quality but are cheaper or easier to process, or when one of the ingredients gets extremely expensive, like in a almond chocolate and almonds cost now 300% more its understandable to add less almonds to the chocolate.

But most of the time I consider shrinkflation a way to scam or at least fool customers, you think you are buying the same thing as always but your buying less or a different product but no one tells you anything, you know, if the product has 30% more. they put it on the packaging, but when the product is 5% smaller, or they changed butter for palm oil, there is no notice on the packaging, right! RIGHT! If there is a need to increase the price, then increase the price and not try and trick everyone into thinking nothing has changed.

So what does this have todo with Supermarket Private Label Brands?

Well i have noticed that most of the criticism of shrinkflation from general media is targeted on popular brands, and its true, soda used to have just a couple of sizes, small can, big bottle, nowadays there are 20 different sizes all of this to trick you or how chocolates keep getting smaller, and then they sell you a Twix Extra its bigger… no it was the old size, there is no extra here, you just made it so small that a normal one is now supposed to be extra big 😛

But another thing I’ve noticed is that Supermarket Private Label Brands seem to be actually the worst abusers of shrinkflation, they rarely change in terms of quantity, maybe because its more noticeable, but in terms of quality it feels rampant, and its not just my impression, a quick search online and you see lots of complaining about private labels from pretty much all supermarket chains, some to the point of becoming memes.

The problem seems that with regular brands, they tend to decrease the size or quantity but keep the quality, because a Kitkat has to taste of Kitkat and a Coca-Cola has to taste of Coca-Cola, but the private label brands don’t have any issues changing the ingredients and quality, getting worst quality rice or potato chips doesn’t matter as long as they can sell cheaper.

And I’m not even excluding the discount chains like Aldi, Lidl, Costco, where most of the products are private label brands, the quality has also decreased on these, but my impression is that because these have less choices, they tend to change the prices more than change the quality of the product.

So the point I’m making is, next time you go to the supermarket be more mindful of shrinkflation and of the supermarket private label brands, that what you bought last time might now be what you are buying today even it the label looks the same.

And of course shrinkflation affects above all processed and industrial products, if most of what you buy is less processed and fresh products you will be more immune to this marketing scheme ;D Have a awesome day and until next time!


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