British consumers hit by ‘shrinkflation’
Pegging charges for some products while shrinking quantities hit consumers with stealth price rises
London — Shrinking chocolate bars and loaves of bread are leaving UK consumers dealing with stealth price rises, according to the Office of National Statistics.
From September 2015 to June 2017, 206 products in the UK shrank in size and 79 increased, according to ONS research published on Monday.
Prices tended to remain unchanged as sizes changed, “consistent with the idea that some products are undergoing shrinkflation”, the ONS said.
The idea of shrinkflation has been gaining traction in the UK as companies facing higher costs try to avoid overt price hikes amid a squeeze on incomes.
One of the most prominent examples was after the Brexit vote in 2016, when the drop in the pound led Mondelez International to reduce the weight of some of its Toblerone chocolate bars, even expanding the gaps between the characteristic triangular segments.
After a consumer outcry, the original shape of bars was reinstated. The ONS research said chocolate bars were fertile ground for shrinkflation, with the category that includes the treat seeing 25 products shrinking against just five that grew.
The category with the most size changes in the period was bread and cereal, with 36 reductions and 18 increases, the ONS said.
“Every day staples such as bread and cereal are most likely to have seen reductions in size, while consumers may also find some chocolate products to be smaller now than they once were,” said Mike Hardie, head of inflation at the ONS.