Have you ever opened a new bag of potato chips and wondered why it seems like half the bag has already been eaten? Yep, us too!
It seems like every time we buy a new bag, the amount of chips we get inside is smaller and smaller — even in Disney World, where chips come as a side to a lot of quick service meals. Are chips shrinking? Are bags getting bigger? Are we overthinking it? Well, we might finally have the answer to this issue!
Have you ever heard of shrinkflation? It’s the practice of downsizing the contents of a product rather than raising prices, according to the Wall Street Journal. Companies do this to combat higher production costs without raising their prices.
For example, you might notice chip bags getting lighter in weight but staying the same price, meaning you’re paying the same amount of money for fewer chips. Another way shrinkflation happens is by the quality of a product going down, like replacing sugar with high-fructose corn syrup.
Companies will do this over raising prices because research shows that shoppers mainly look at overall prices of products, according to the Wall Street Journal. So basically, it seems like companies think keeping the price the same but offering less is an easier pill to swallow than raising prices for the same amount of a product.
Some ways to recognize shrinkflation is when a company redesigns the packaging of a product. This way, they can sneak in the different, smaller size and it’s harder for people to make a direct comparison to the old product. This also happens with things like Oreo limited-edition flavors — the packages of the limited-edition flavors are smaller than normal Oreos but actually cost more.
Another way you can spot shrinkflation is when a company offers an existing product in a new, more convenient form of packaging, like individual packs of a certain snack. So, companies are charging you more for less and justifying it by saying they’re giving you some new added benefit, like a resealable bag.
Note that this doesn’t mean shrinkflation happens every time a company changes its product packaging, though.
Companies call these changes “price pack architecture” rather than shrinkflation, and will do this to keep prices competitive as well as to combat higher production costs. It takes a significant amount of effort for companies to make these changes, so they’re made when the companies think inflation will last for an extended period of time. And, once the changes are made, they are usually here to stay.
This doesn’t JUST apply to food though, this also happens in many other industries, like how hotels will charge the same price for a room, but offer less included services, like daily fresh towels or housekeeping.
So, these are some things to be aware of if you want to try and recognize shrinkflation the next time you’re grocery shopping! You can always test it out by comparing an older bag of chips to a brand new one, or even looking at the price and size differences between regular and special edition versions of the same product. Stay tuned to DFB for more food news and updates.
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Have you ever noticed Shrinkflation before? Let us know in the comments!