"Shrinkflation" ... now I have a word to describe my frustration with food prices.

dud

Diamond Member
Feb 18, 2001
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Inflation is "officially" at about 2% but, if you may have already noticed, food prices are increasing much faster than inflation ... and everyone needs to eat. To add insult to injury have you noticed how the size/weight/quantity of the product that you are buying has actually shrunk in size over time? One of my favorite examples is frozen peas. Just 5 years ago I could purchase a 16oz bag of frozen peas for $0.99. As of today it will cost me about $1.49 for a 12oz bag of peas. Not only has the price of the product gone up much faster than inflation but the quantity has decreased as well.

I have found this practice used across a broad range of products that I typically buy ... begrudgingly. Was reading an article this morning and finally found a label for the practice: "Shrinkflation":


http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40703866


Thoughts?
 

luv2liv

Diamond Member
Dec 27, 2001
3,445
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i remember price of food went up because gas price went up.
now that gas price is dirt cheap $2.40 in philly, food price still stayed the same or even went up. Banh Mi is now $6! it was $3 just 8 years ago
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
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Consumer Reports always has examples of that on the inside-back cover. Here is a couple of examples: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/06/selling-it-june-2014/index.htm

Closely related to your post: this shrinkage is often hidden, by just filling the same large container with less and less product. If so this is called "slack-fill", and can be illegal. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=100.100

The trend may be reversing. Farm revenues have fallen 4 years in a row. Food prices will follow.
 

ImpulsE69

Lifer
Jan 8, 2010
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This is well known product strategy that has been reported and documented many times.

Companies cut the weight of food products to avoid changing the price. This comes in many forms, sometimes just smaller products, and sometimes repackaging into packages that seem the same but are really smaller. Of course, then after some time yes the price goes up.
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
24,092
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Shouldn't food prices rise?
I'm not sure if I understand your use of the word "should". In an overall health aspect, yes, prices should skyrocket to discourage overeating. In a people are starving aspect, no, prices should not rise.

Here are the food prices in the US:
https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/DataFiles/50673/historicalcpi.xls?v=42761
Focusing on food at home, since that is what the OP was describing:
  • 2007: +4.2%
  • 2008: +6.4%
  • 2009: +0.5%
  • 2010: +0.3%
  • 2011: +4.8%
  • 2012: +2.5%
  • 2013: +0.9%
  • 2014: +2.4%
  • 2015: +1.2%
  • 2016: -1.3%
I expect 2017 to also have food prices drop.
 
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highland145

Lifer
Oct 12, 2009
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My thought is if farm revenue is shrinking => less farms/less food then prices should rise.
 

Cozarkian

Golden Member
Feb 2, 2012
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This practice us especially noticeable when you have family recipes that call for "1 8 oz. can of ..." and you go to the store and they only make 6 oz. cans.
 
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dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
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My thought is if farm revenue is shrinking => less farms/less food then prices should rise.
In the long term, yes. But I don't think we are anywhere near that point. The typical farmer's logic goes like this: I made less money last year thus I need to plant more this year. Then repeat that with all other farmers. In an every man for himself world, food prices tend to be feast and famine. There isn't an OPEC-like central body that has all farmers slightly cut back to counteract the food price decline. Thus it takes many years to actually make a proper production cut to get the farm revenue back up like you were describing.

I was speaking more from the food producer's viewpoint. If the price of grain falls, Kellog's does not need to cut it's cereal prices right away. It can rake in the profits for quite a while. There is a lag until other cereal companies cut their prices which eventually forces Kellog's to cut their prices. Thus, there tends to be a multi-year lag between farm prices being cut and for that cut to show up in the supermarket.
 
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dud

Diamond Member
Feb 18, 2001
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I'm not sure if I understand your use of the word "should". In an overall health aspect, yes, prices should skyrocket to discourage overeating. In a people are starving aspect, no, prices should not rise.

Here are the food prices in the US:
https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/DataFiles/50673/historicalcpi.xls?v=42761
Focusing on food at home, since that is what the OP was describing:
  • 2007: +4.2%
  • 2008: +6.4%
  • 2009: +0.5%
  • 2010: +0.3%
  • 2011: +4.8%
  • 2012: +2.5%
  • 2013: +0.9%
  • 2014: +2.4%
  • 2015: +1.2%
  • 2016: -1.3%
I expect 2017 to also have food prices drop.


Thank you for posting this. While these may be the "official" inflation numbers they do not match with what I am seeing at my local stores. Examples: Bread +40%, certain produce +25%). My gripe is that not only are we getting stuck with higher prices ... we are getting less for those prices. It's like salt in an open wound.

There are ways to get around these tactics ... by changing where and how you shop. Five years ago I had never heard of Aldi nor Trader Joes ... but now I do about 1/2 of my shopping there. My local "big box" food store is still in business but is slowly having it's lifeblood diverted away. Real salaries are failing to keep pace with these price rises and people need to eat so they are going to low-price alternative, some of which provide only minimal services like bagging and such to keep prices down.
 
Nov 8, 2012
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Who the fuck eats frozen peas? Gross. Probably the worst vegetable of all time. I would rather eat frozen spinach over that shit.
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
24,092
2,331
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Thank you for posting this. While these may be the "official" inflation numbers they do not match with what I am seeing at my local stores. Examples: Bread +40%, certain produce +25%). My gripe is that not only are we getting stuck with higher prices ... we are getting less for those prices. It's like salt in an open wound.

There are ways to get around these tactics ... by changing where and how you shop. Five years ago I had never heard of Aldi nor Trader Joes ... but now I do about 1/2 of my shopping there. My local "big box" food store is still in business but is slowly having it's lifeblood diverted away. Real salaries are failing to keep pace with these price rises and people need to eat so they are going to low-price alternative, some of which provide only minimal services like bagging and such to keep prices down.
While, there has been a tiny uptick in food spending compared to salaries, I think we all need a bigger perspective. A hundred years ago, people used to spend about a third of their income on food. Now we are just at 10%. That 10% is up from 9% that it was since about the year 2000. But 10% is historically quite low. Only the poor today spend at about the 1/3rd level on food.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/02/389578089/your-grandparents-spent-more-of-their-money-on-food-than-you-do

You need to be careful with selective memory at the grocery store. Sure, your bread is probably up 40%. But do you remember eggs at $4 or $5 a dozen in year 2015? They are under $2 a dozen for me right now.

I once met a CPI data price collector. All she does all day long is walk into stores, write down the current prices, and send them in. The country-wide average price might not reflect what you personally see in your hometown. But it is real data.
 

Cuular

Senior member
Aug 2, 2001
802
16
81
Graham crackers used to be 2.49 for 16oz box. Now 3.69 for 14.4oz box, and they kept the same box size, just pulled 2 sets of crackers from each of the 3 enclosed packs. It's discouraging to open the box and see the open space, that used to be full.
 

BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
59,483
7,684
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This practice us especially noticeable when you have family recipes that call for "1 8 oz. can of ..." and you go to the store and they only make 6 oz. cans.
Or even worse...recipe calls for 18 oz....and it's only available in 15 oz cans.

Ok...I'm old...we all know that, but coffee sold in the grocery stores USED to be sold by the pound...1 lb can, 2 lb can, 3 lb can...nowadays, that "1 lb" can weighs around 11 oz...and the larger can weighs in about 30 oz.
 

Yakk

Golden Member
May 28, 2016
1,574
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I was reading elsewhere about this, essentially low inflation is hiding the fact food prices have, and still are, skyrocketing. Amongst other things the growing segment and lowering prices of consumer electronics (ie: proliferation of cheap cell phones everywhere) are actually starting to affect inflation numbers and "hiding" traditional looking figures.
 

slag

Lifer
Dec 14, 2000
10,473
81
101
Who the fuck eats frozen peas? Gross. Probably the worst vegetable of all time. I would rather eat frozen spinach over that shit.
Frozen peas are awesome. Can't find fresh peas anywhere but a farmers market and canned peas are shit. Microwave some frozen peas with a dab of lightly salted butter until the butter melts on them and they are done. YUM.
 

BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
59,483
7,684
126
Frozen peas are awesome. Can't find fresh peas anywhere but a farmers market and canned peas are shit. Microwave some frozen peas with a dab of lightly salted butter until the butter melts on them and they are done. YUM.
Yeah...frozen veggies are SO much better than canned...the only way veggies could be better/fresher is if they're fresh picked.
 

TXHokie

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 1999
2,547
166
106
Those "new" Frosted Flakes cereal boxes are ridiculous. They're so skinny that my kid ran by the table and the draft knocked it over. The local store runs those buy 1 get 1 free but I think two boxes just adds up to one of the original old box.
 
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lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
55,823
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I'm ok with rising prices, that's life, but don't treat me like I'm stupid by shrinking container sizes. At least be honest about your price increase.
 
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ponyo

Lifer
Feb 14, 2002
19,688
2,800
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I noticed but we're eating less processed food so it doesn't bother me too much. Commodity and wholesale price fluctuations annoy me more as I buy in bulk.
 

gorcorps

aka Brandon
Jul 18, 2004
30,735
442
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You must not have been paying attention. I remember them reducing sizes of things years ago, then they've recently been increasing prices from there.

Of course things can vary by location.
 

Mayne

Diamond Member
Apr 13, 2014
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Try going from shopping at a place called No Frills to a place called Sun Valley Market...everything is 4x more expensive...its really pissing me off bigtime. went from buying a 1 dollar bottle of ketchup to spending almost 4 dollars now..thats just one example.
 

Mayne

Diamond Member
Apr 13, 2014
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the ground beef prices is decent though..thats the only thing though.
 

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