Popular supermarket items shrinking in size, but not in price

You're not going mad, the products you love are shrinking but prices aren't going down.

A composite image of a supermarket check out and Ritz packets showing the size difference.
Ritz Crackers have shrunk by nearly 25 per cent, while remaining the same price. (Source: Getty / Facebook/E.Lyall)

As Australia's cost of living crisis continues, new data from grocery comparison app Frugal has revealed the latest supermarket products to fall victim to the scourge of "shrinkflation" - a term coined to describe shrinking package or portion sizes that cost the same or more than they originally did.

From chocolate, through seasoning and crackers, it seems no staple is immune, with heavyweights like Masterfoods, Ritz and Lindt all found guilty of the practice.

MasterFoods garlic granules are marketed as being "softer and lighter in flavour than fresh garlic with a toasted note", with shoppers encouraged to "simply replace one clove of fresh garlic with one tablespoon of granules". The problem is, at Woolworths at least, those granules have just become more expensive, as the 50g jar has mysteriously shrunk to 45g, but still costs the same.

Coles, however, is still featuring the original 50g garlic variety and the 45g edition does not appear in MasterFoods' own product catalogue. MasterFoods have been approached for comment.

Another casualty was the Lindt Maxi Carrot, a popular seasonal treat that is both a little bit smaller and a tad more expensive than it was not so long ago. Previously 375g and $30, the 2023 edition shrunk to 354g, yet actually cost 6 per cent more at $32. Lindt have been approached for comment.

Perhaps most egregious and concerning though, is the fate of our beloved Ritz crackers. Once $3.50 for 300g, the packet remains the same price, but has shrunk by close to 25 per cent, now a paltry 227g. Manufacturer Mondelez International has been approached for comment.

Speaking previously with Yahoo News Australia, Professor Vinh Thai of RMIT University explained that most businesses prefer to pass input cost pressures on to the customer via shrinkflation, rather than via direct price increases. Covid-19 supply chain disruptions, fuel price hikes and labour shortages in Australia have all caused business input costs to rise, and while some of those issues have stabilised, the cost impact remains.

"When costs increase like that, companies need to think of ways to minimise the impact," Professor Thai said. "So if the costs increase and if they [manufacturers] want to maintain the same profit margin, then the selling price will need to go up especially for commodities like food and groceries."

"If they want to minimise the negative impact, which is to keep the price the same, then the volume and the quantity of the product will need to be reduced," he added.

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