Supermarket Swindles: 10 Products That Deceptively Declined in Quality, Despite Increasing in Price

We are all feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis, and food prices seem to have become astronomical when it comes to the weekly shop. No wallet is safe from food price inflation at the moment, but it’s not just the rising prices that are tugging on the purse strings. 

Supermarkets are employing sneaky tactics, such as shrinkflation and skimpflation, to extract more money from shoppers without having to adjust their prices.

Here’s a look at some of the products that have been hit the hardest and how you’ve been swindled by your local supermarket. 

Shrinkflation

shrinkflation reducing quantity while keeping price constant
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Shrinkflation refers to the sneaky tactic that food retailers use to reduce the size of a product without changing the price. Meaning you’re paying the same for less. 

Skimpflation

Man shopping in a supermarket
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If you thought shrinkflation was bad enough, they’ve come up with a whole new term to describe how supermarkets are continuing to rip us off. 

Skimpflation is the new term for when supermarkets reduce the quality of ingredients in products without lowering the price. You might not notice, but you’re paying the same for less, like less cacao in your chocolate or maybe even less filling in your sandwiches.  

What Is The Reasoning Behind It?

The word interest rate is on a calculator with a coin, a graph, and an arrow pointing up. Concepts of raising interest rates, economic conditions, inflation, etc.
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The measures are often introduced when companies face higher manufacturing costs. As a result, they are prompted to sell smaller quantities at the same price to maintain profit and sometimes increase margins. To avoid reducing sales by hiking the prices, companies resort to this tactic to create the illusion that nothing has changed.

How Bad Is It?

Lady Thinking Buying Food And Calculating Increased Food Prices Standing In Supermarket
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According to the Huffington Post, grocery prices in the US have risen by around 25% since the pandemic. Due to deceptive pricing practices, 10% of inflation in certain product categories is believed to be directly attributed to shrinkflation. 

What’s Been Hit Worst?

Shopping cart filled with food and drinks
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From your favorite chocolate and sweet treats to essentials like baby formula and coffee, here’s a look at what products have been hit the worst over the last year.

Cereals

Cheerio cereals in shelf at supermarket
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Brands like General Mills have drastically reduced the weight of their family-size cereal boxes, including Cocoa Puffs and Cheerios, by around 6% without decreasing the price.

Household Paper Products

Persons Hand Using Toilet Paper
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Products such as toilet paper and paper towels have seen a huge price increase, with a 34.9% percent rise per unit since 2019. Approximately 10.3% percent of this increase is attributed to manufacturers reducing the size of the rolls and packages.

Oreos

oreo
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Your favorite Oreo Double Stuf cookie has seen a 6% decrease in size by weight since 2019, while cakes, cupcakes, and cookies as a whole have experienced a 2% increase since this time last year.

Snacks

woman enjoying Doritos snack
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The ratio of chips to air has always been disappointing. However, if you’ve noticed a change in taste and reduced quantity, you’re not going mad. Brands like Doritos have reduced the weight of their product by 5% while simultaneously hiking up their prices.

Vegetable Oil Spreads

smart balance vegetable oil spread
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Have you noticed your spreads getting more watery? Consumers of vegetable oil products like Smart Balance have been hard hit by the effects of skimpflation. Whilst their products aren’t getting any smaller (or cheaper), back in 2022, they drastically reduced the vegetable oil content by 40%, leading to significant backlash over the watery product.

Dish Soap

dawn platinum dish soap
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Procter and Gamble, manufacturers of Dawn Ultra and Dawn Ultra Platinum dish soap, reduced their sizes from 7 ounces to 6.5 ounces but maintained the same bottle size and price.

Baby Food and Formula

Baby bottles on shelf
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Baby food and formula have had one of the biggest shifts, having shot up by nearly 9% since 2023. In many cases, customers are concerned that companies are putting profits ahead of the welfare of children.

Reeces Peanut Butter Cups

Hershey's
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Hershey’s jumped on the shrinkflation bandwagon a while ago, cutting costs by reducing the size of their Peanut Butter Cups by a fraction. While it may seem insignificant, it’s noticeable when gobbling down the chocolate treat. 

Chocolate

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Chocolate lovers will be devastated to hear that cocoa prices are expected to increase by up to 20% and remain at a record high this year. As a result, the cacao quality and quantity in chocolate have declined in addition to reduced sizes and increased prices.

Olive Oil

woman holding a bottle of olive oil in supermarket
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Olive oil prices have risen by just under 50% thanks to tight supplies. As a result, consumption has dropped, and olive oil-based products have employed shrinkflation to reduce the cost of using actual olive oil. This practice, such as diluting olive oil with water in salad dressings, has begun to anger consumers who are now suspicious of the food industry and their preference for authentic products.

Greedflation

greedy banker holding dollar
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A lot of these measures are motivated by the concept of greedflation. This is the corporate manipulation of inflation that exacerbates the rising cost of living for American families. 

Companies take the opportunity to raise prices while boosting their profits. For example, despite overall inflation rising by 14% between July 2020 and 2022, corporate profits surged by 74%, contributing to 41% of inflation, according to Federal Reserve research

Noticed A Difference?

young man looking at products in supermarket shelves
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If you’ve noticed a difference in the value and quality of products you buy, you’re not alone. A recent survey showed that over half of Americans have heard about the effects of shrinkflation, and two-thirds (64%) have significant concerns. 

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