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SHRINKFLATION AND SKIMPFLATION

Consumer body emphasises how product pack sizes are being reduced

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

UK study finds a rapid rise in ‘shrinkflation’ and ‘skimpflation as manufacturers struggle with rising costs and lower shopper spending.

An investigation by a UK consumer-rights organisation has emphasised the extent of ‘shrinkflation’ and skimpflation in supermarket products, as shoppers and manufacturers battle rising raw material costs, high inflation, and reduced spending power. 

Photo Credit: Jack Sparrow. Pexels

 

‘Shrinkflation’ is when pack sizes are made smaller, but the cost is not reduced. ‘Skimpflation’ is when expensive ingredients in a product are reduced, but the price consumers pay remains similar, or increases.  

 

The research, conducted by the organisation Which?, finds that, while some popular products are subtly decreasing either in size or quality, the same can’t be said for their prices – which means shoppers are inadvertently paying more for less. 

 

“Supermarkets and manufacturers must be more upfront by making sure changes to popular products are clear, and by ensuring that unit pricing is prominent, legible and consistent in-store and online so that shoppers can easily compare prices across different brands and pack sizes,” says Ele Clark, the Retail Editor at Which? 

 

Listerine Fresh Burst mouthwash is among the products highlighted by Which?. It calls the product “among the worst examples of shrinkflation”, with the size of a bottle cut by 17%, from 600ml to 500ml. At the same time, the prize rose in some stores, and the researchers calculate that the price per 100ml went up 46%. 

 

Increases in raw materials and production costs

 

In a statement published in the London-based The Guardian newspaper, a spokesperson for the manufacturer of Listerine says: “Like many other manufacturers, we are faced with cost increases, especially in raw material and production costs, and have had to adjust our prices. The current recommended retail price for Listerine reflects these cost increases and our ongoing investment in the product.” 

 

Other examples highlighted by the research include sausages with less pork, beef lasagne with less beef, less chicken in chicken enchiladas, and reduced butter content in spreadable butter. 

 

According to Which?, retailers argue that reducing the size of a product, instead of increasing its price, has helped consumers. But three-quarters of shoppers believe manufacturers and retailers are not being transparent about the process. 

 

The British Retail Consortium, which represents the country’s retailers, says in its own statement that the prices and sizes of all products are clearly labelled so that customers can make informed decisions. 

 

“Given the challenges facing households from the cost-of-living squeeze, retailers are solely focused to find ways to limit rising prices for customers against the rising cost of production, while maintaining the excellent quality of products,” the Consortium’s spokesperson states. 

 

In a 2022 study of shrinkflation by two Australian universities, the researchers noted that “the sneaky strategy of reducing pack sizes shows the strength of consumers’ cognitive bias towards focusing on price, no matter what”. 

 

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.