'Shrinkflation' of groceries growing during high inflation

As inflation is still above 8%, a consumer advocate says "shrinkflation" is growing. That means more manufacturers are giving us less for our money as they are feeling the effects of inflation as well.

Some of them are passing their higher costs on to consumers, putting less product in the box, but selling it for the same price.

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Edgar Dworsky at Consumer World says boxes of Quaker Instant Oatmeal with raisins, dates and walnuts went from 10 packets to 8.  

"You can’t tell the difference until you turn them sideways.  And when you turn them sideways, you see this one much wider," Dworsky held up both boxes.

Huggies Little Snugglers diapers are down from 96 to 84 per package, he says, for the same price.  

"Better tell the baby you better cut back 12% on having to go," said Dworksy.

He says the makers of Natural Balance Adult Dog Food admitted to reducing the bag from 26 pounds to 24, to "offer more consistency in sizing across our portfolio."

And Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch shrank from 12.5 oz. to 11.4 oz.  But he says the price didn't shrink.

"Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter cereal lost about a bowl in every box," said Dworsky.


To beat "shrinkflation," Dworsky says to choose by the price per unit listed on the label on the store shelf, and go generic.

Pamela Vachon did a price comparison for CNET and found generic groceries on average are 40% cheaper than brand names.  

CNET shows a Great Value box of Toasted O's, for example, is about $2 at Walmart, but the same size box of Cheerios is about $5.  

"I think the savings are big enough that it’s at least worth a taste test," said Vachon.

And she says some generic brands actually had more product inside.

"Nine times out of ten, if there was a size discrepancy, it was the store brand or generic item that had a larger volume."

MORE: More people using online grocery shopping to save money amid inflation

And here's a secret: the Private Label Manufacturing Association reports one in five generic products are made by a brand name manufacturer.

"You can see that by looking at the label. You can find out who its manufacturer is," said Vachon.

Other ways to beat shrinkflation are to buy in bulk, shop online to compare prices per unit, and use store discount cards and cash back apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51.