Could this be the answer to beating ‘shrinkflation’?

Sep 22, 2023
Do you think Australia should adopt this anti-'shrinkflation' strategy? Source: Getty

With the rising cost of living, a trip to the grocery store can set you back quite a bit.

But adding to the financial pressure of consumers is the standard tactic by food companies known as “shrinkflation”, where the size of a product is slashed while the price stays the same, or in some cases, the price rises despite the drop in product size.

While this trick is longstanding and unfortunately common, there appears to be a large number of manufacturers jumping aboard the shrinkfaltion train in a bid to boost profits to fight rising costs – pushing the pressure directly onto the consumer.

According to The GuardianIan Jarratt, from the Queensland Consumers Association, said making customers aware of the downsized products is important to fight shrinkflation.

“Manufacturers use shrinkflation to make sneaky price increases and improve or maintain their margins because most shoppers are more aware of, and sensitive to, higher selling prices than reductions in the amount in packages,” Jarratt said.

However, French supermarket chain Carrefour has taken action to turn the tables, putting pressure on the manufacturer to stop using this greedy tactic.

The supermarket has begun adding labels to products that say: “This product has seen its volume or weight fall and the effective price from the supplier rise,” showing customers who might be otherwise occupied with the price increase and a “new” packaging to notice the product size decrease.

As reported by The Guardian, Carrefour’s Director of Client Communications, Stefen Bompais, said: “Obviously, the aim in stigmatising these products is to be able to tell manufacturers to rethink their pricing policy.”

But could slapping these products with warning labels really be the answer to combatting shrinkflation?

Aussies fed up with not getting enough bang for their buck took to social media to share their thoughts on Australia taking the same approach.

“Stores should be required by law to do this. shrinkflation is trickery,” one person said.

“Our government here in Australia loves kissing the backsides of Coles & Woolworths so much that they would never do this.”

Makes sense, groceries make a big note when the price goes down, might as well note when the size goes down too,” said another. 

Imagine this happening in Australian supermarkets. That would hold them accountable and cause the consumer to stop buying from them.”

In Australia, Coles and Woolworths control roughly two-thirds of the supermarket sector, with Woolworths reporting a $1.62bn profit in 2022-23, and Coles reported a $1.1bn profit despite the cost-of-living crisis.

“Pack and serving size is up to the individual manufacturer,” a spokesperson for Woolworths said.

The Aussie supermarket giants have recently faced accusations of price gouging leading to an inquiry by the Australian Council of Trade Unions into supermarket pricing policies.

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