Call for Supermarkets to Help Shoppers Spot Package “shrinkflation”

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Original media release courtesy of the Queensland Consumers Association (17/09/2023).

The Queensland Consumers Association (QCA) says Australian supermarkets should follow the example of some French supermarkets and alert customers when “shrinkflation” of packaged products has occurred.

Shrinkflation is when there is a reduction in the amount in the package but the selling price is not reduced by the same proportion, is unchanged ,or even increased.

QCA spokesperson, Ian Jarratt says 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.

Due to increased costs downsizing of packaged grocery products is now more common in many countries including in Australia and France.

However, in France, to help customers be aware of shrinkflation at least one major supermarket chain, Carrefour, is now putting labels on shelves beside some products where this has occurred.

QCA says Australian consumer awareness of shrinkflation and ability to make well-informed choices would be greatly increased if Australian supermarkets did the same.

And, Australian supermarkets could also help consumers to spot shrinkflation if they made the unit prices (price per unit of standardised measure such as per 100g/100mL) much easier to notice, read, understand and use.

Many supermarkets are required to provide unit prices on shelf labels, internet selling sites and advertisements. And, unit pricing is a simple but very effective tool for grocery shoppers interested in spotting shrinkflation and getting value for money. It’s the value-conscious grocery shopper’s best friend.

And, grocery product manufacturers could make it easier for consumers to spot shrinkflation if they did better job of displaying the quantity in the package. Often this information is not easy enough for consumers to notice and read.