Take a look at how companies hide rising costs by shrinking the size of everyday products, from toilet paper to candy bars

General mills cereal
General Mills shrunk its ‘family size’ boxes from 19.3 ounces (547.15g) to 18.1 ounces. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Prices of consumer goods are increasing, from food to household necessities.
  • The term shrinkflation describes brands selling smaller amounts of product for the same price as before.
  • It’s a sneaky way for brands to hide growing prices.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s not just you – some grocery products are getting smaller.

Ingredients and manufacturing are getting more expensive thanks to inflation, and if they can’t cut costs, companies have two main choices – hiking up prices or making their products smaller.

Many of these size changes are subtle, like making candy bars sold in multipacks smaller than ones being sold individually, or changing the shape of their products so you can barely notice the difference in weight.

“Do we raise the price knowing consumers will see it and grumble about it? Or do we give them a little bit less and accomplish the same thing? Often it’s easier to do the latter,” consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky told The Washington Post.

This phenomenon, known as shrinkflation, was already happening before the coronavirus pandemic, but is set to get worse because of rising labor costs and ingredients prices combined with soaring demand and a shipping crisis.

Walmart Great Value Paper Towels dropped from 168 sheets per roll to only 120, while the price stayed the same.
Walmart paper towel shelves
Walmart increased paper towel prices. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Frito-Lay just shrunk regular bags of Dorito’s from 9.75 ounces (276.41g) to 9.25 ounces. Both are currently for sale at Target for the same price.
Doritos pricing at Target
Frito-Lay shrank Dorito bags. Target
Source: Target
Hershey cut down its 18 ounce (510.29g) pack of dark chocolate Kisses by almost two ounces.
Hershey Kisses
Hefty’s mega pack went from 90 bags to 80 bags, at the same price.
Hefty 2
A two-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups used to weigh 1.6 ounces (45.36g). Now it’s just 1.5 ounces (42.52g).
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups two pack
Tubs of Pringles are different weights depending on the flavor in the US, but at Walmart they all cost the same.
Pringles prices on Walmart website
Source: Walmart
General Mills shrunk its “family size” boxes from 19.3 ounces (547.15g) to 18.1 ounces – a drop of nearly 10%.
General mills cereal
Source: NPR
Tillamook decreased the size of its ice-cream cartons from 56 ounces (1,587.57g) to 48 ounces. It said that it didn’t make the decision lightly, but that if it didn’t make it cartons smaller it would have had to hike up prices because of rising ingredients costs.
Tillamook icecream
Source: Tillamook
Some of Royal Canin’s cans of cat food now weigh 5.1 ounces (144.58g), down from 5.9 ounces (167.26g) – but they still cost the same. Royal Canin, a subsidiary of Mars, said that it had reduced some product sizes because of “unprecedented demand” for pet food during the pandemic.
Royal Canin cat food
Charmin toilet paper originally had 650 sheets per roll. It now only contains around half of that – and even its “Mega Rolls” and “Super Mega Rolls” don’t have as many sheets as the original. The sheets have reportedly gotten smaller, too.
Toilet paper prime day
Cadbury changed the shape of its famous Dairy Milk bars in 2013 – and changed the size of them, too. The individual pieces now have rounded edges and contain nearly 10% less chocolate than before.
Cadbury Dairy Milk
Source: BBC
But Dairy Milk isn’t the only product Cadbury, owned by Mondelez, has shrunk over the years. Chocolate bars it sells in multipacks weigh much less than ones it sells individually – and it announced plans to shrink down the size of multipack bars even further still.
Wispa chocolate
Source: BBC
Mondelez also owns Swiss chocolate company Toblerone, which makes distinctively triangular chocolate bars. In 2014 it reduced the weight of its bars by 25% by adding more space between each piece – but reversed the decision two years later after public outcry.
Source: BBC