Navigating the ebb and flow of inflation can swamp any budget-minded consumer trying to make ends meet. Have you noticed the recent shrinkage in some favorite food items? Not just food but some popular toiletries, pet foods, and household items. Things we always use have lost a little of their bulk, quantity, and flavor. It’s not meant to help save consumers money or help them lose weight but to maintain the business’s profit margins. “Shrinkflation” has been coined by the media to label this phenomenon. Raising the price is one thing; it’s easy to understand the increase by blaming it on transportation or a bad growing season. With groceries, it is harder to spot inflationary reduction or product shrinkage. While buying your favorite frozen pizza, you don’t notice the ingredient reduction until you unwrap the pizza from its oversize box and bake it in the oven. This is when you realize your pizza is smaller than usual. What used to feed three now feeds two. Remember how the pizza carton never really fit into the freezer? Someone must have reported the pizza shrinkage since the box is now smaller, making it easier to fit in the icebox. Reducing the amount of an ingredient in the final mix is an inconspicuous method of raising profit to offset the growing cost of production. Small reduction increments might barely be noticed, hopefully not compromising product quality or familiarity. Cost-cutting is a more obscure strategy. That easy chicken you shake in a bag now comes without the bag. Two purchases in a row; all that came in the box was the envelope of seasonings, no bag. That’s production profit in the bag. Makers of “rolled” products, like paper towels and toilet paper, save manufacturing costs with clever schemes that trick consumers into thinking they are getting a bargain, for instance, supplying more product on fewer rolls, thereby requiring less cardboard for toilet paper tubes. Packaging also breaks it down to simple math with comparison formulas on the wrapper. Two big rolls will equal three smaller rolls, and so forth. The manufacturers save on the tubing used to make the toilet paper rolls.
Noticing one morning, in the shower, that the old faithful hair shampoo didn’t wash well with one application, and a second dab was needed; the familiar brand had less of the scent enjoyed bath after bath for the last fifty years. This violates personal hygiene rules—confidence in something as private as hair shampoo fragrance is important. Shampoo production had cut back or they were stingy on the herbal essence.
In hard times, human beings can be very resourceful. Some inflation-related product shrinkage we can learn to live with. You can eat less pizza, supply your own chicken shaker bag, and use less toilet paper. Right? Shrinkflation or not, saving money is everyone’s concern. Making good grocery lists and checking grocery receipts has always been a good idea. Being aware of quantity versus price comparisons can help with budgeting strategies. Most dogs have good taste when it comes to flavor reductions in pet foods. Lately, they haven’t been barking for second helpings. Also, let’s not start talking about tortilla shrinkage. A wise man once said, “Sometimes less is more.” This doesn’t apply here.