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Honey I Shrunk Everything

Have you ever bought a packet of sweets or chips, only to open it and find that it contains more air than snack?

You may be confused by childhood memories when everything seemed bigger and chock-a-block. Was it just because you were smaller?

A new wave of clever money saving tricks is being put in place by food brands, restaurants, service providers and shops. It’s called shrinkflation and it is secretly hitting you right in the wallet.

So, what is Shrinkflation and how is it subtly ruining your favourite snacks and drinks?


We all know that the cost of living is going up.

It seems that whenever you hit the shops, products cost more. You may have noticed this, but something else very sneaky is also happening. Some products are also quietly shrinking in size, without you realising it.

This is shrinkflation.

 It’s a cunning trick that companies use to make their products visually appear unchanged, while reducing the quantity you get, sneaky right?

‘Some products are also quietly shrinking in size, without you realising it’

Shrinkflation may involve adding a lot more air in a bag of chips than before, or maybe few less chips sitting next to your favourite burger. Even the patties might be the same size from the top but thinner than before. New packaging may appear as way to make a product look up to date, but can be used to hide the new reduced weight.

Another way companies do this, is by changing the product ingredients. This can also explain why cherished foods or drinks from your childhood no longer taste the same or hit the spot. While they may be packaged the same, and look the same as before, their make-up may have changed to cheaper ingredients.

Why do companies resort to shrinkflation?

It’s all about the money. Companies and restaurants know that consumers are sensitive to price changes these days, so instead, they reduce the weight of their products and meal sizes.

We all know that transport costs have gone up, electricity prices have gone up resulting in ingredient prices going up all the time. This means that companies and restaurants are making less and less profit on items than before. So, when the cost of ingredients or production increases, companies face a dilemma. They must either raise the price and risk scaring off their existing customers, or they need to find a way to maintain the appearance of the same price while actually giving you less.

But how do they get away with it? Ah, that’s where the clever disguises come into play. Companies know that most of us aren’t walking calculators, constantly comparing weights and prices. We forget how many grams were in that chocolate the last time we bought it, or how many milliliters are in that can.

You may always grab that R100 pack of meat from the shop not realising that the contents are slowly getting smaller and smaller while the price stays the same.

So, they jazz up the packaging with flashy new labels, bright colours, and catchy new slogans, hoping we’ll be too distracted to notice the disappearing act. That curvier bottle of soda might look cooler, but it might hide the fact that it feels different because it’s lighter than before.

‘we often buy products out of habit, without paying too much attention to the details’

Let’s face it, they’re counting on the fact that we often buy products out of habit, without paying too much attention to the details. They’re banking on our love for familiar brands and the belief that our beloved treats remain untouched. Sneaky, sneaky!

Spot The Difference

Here are some examples of products that have changed size or shape and are actually giving consumers less than before.

In 2017 some smaller coke cans went down from 355ml to 330ml, then in 2020 to 300ml.

Knowledge is power

Now that you’re aware of shrinkflation, you can keep an eye out for these clever tricks.

When you hit the shops, take a moment to compare prices and sizes, and don’t be afraid to read those labels. It’s always a good idea to check if your favourite snacks are still worth the price.

Shrinkflation may make us feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick, but it doesn’t mean we have to settle for less. By staying informed and making mindful choices, we can keep those tricky companies on their toes and reward more generous ones.

So, next time you’re at the grocery store, keep your wits about you. Stay sharp and show those sneaky shrinkflators that you’re no pushover when it comes to value for money!

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