Shrinkflation or Skimpflation?

A company shrinks their product size but keeps or raises the price. Like Haagen Dazs, for example, shrinking the size of their container a while back. Or, that food product you have been buying suddenly tastes different. The producer decides to change to often cheaper ingredients yet keeps or raises the price. Like Stella d’Oro baked goods. Why are they so awful now?
Are you experiencing this? Share examples…

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I can speak from the manufacturer’s side because I lived this across different categories.

Now mind you, my employer had a lot of pull interms of supply chain and consideration for the consumer (where I came in)

But when McDonald’s went to all white meat nuggets, the chicken market was obliterated. No one has more pull then them. Our supplier for our frozen foods (which the whole point of having this line was the better quality) just raised the price to the point we had to look for other suppliers. This when I learned about grades of processed chicken and anything below what we were using was fucking awful. We could not shrink the package much without making not feel like a full meal. We raised the price. We held on as much as we could with reduced sales (frozen food is a value buy) and within two years discontinued the line.

There are also packaging considerations. We had a popular product that was named by its size. This was in an even in a more value conscious segment and we could reduce a 16oz product into an 14oz and not face serious consumer and maybe even legal repercussions. So we had to think of whole new packaging and names for it and essentially discontinue that popular size.

Bottom line is that most consumers react to price and not “size”. Our own internal studies show it. Industry studies show it. It’s a tough thing to navigate. But the numbers bear it out.

I’ve seen this my whole life in the majority of packaged food products I’ve bought. Chocolate bars were renamed “choclaty” because they stopped using chocolate. Packaged coffee bags at some point went from a pound to 12 oz. The fancy milk we buy comes in a 48-oz. bottle instead of a half-gallon carton. Even with standard-sized cans, manufacturers underfill. “Contents may settle during shipment” my ass.

It’s so common it’s hardly worth discussing. Caveat emptor.

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That’s def one of the reasons why I buy coffee where I do because they still sell in 1lb size for about what other independent shops sell 12oz

Seconded. It’s been a thing as long as I’ve been cognizant, which is a while. There were probably 20 threads on Chowhound devoted to it (and I’m pretty sure this OP started at least one of them).


I’m currently paying $11.32 / lb. for four 12-oz. bags delivered.

I think the discontinued Trader Joe’s coffee I was buying was $15 for a 26-oz. can, so $9.23 / lb.

Less of this, more of that! Applied to restaurants, have you noticed a sizable increase in the number of French fries on you plate. At what cost? Most likely less of the good stuff in your sandwich. I mean, how many fries can you eat?

You really don’t want an answer to that question around here.


More than two people in my party can eat has forever been the standard size for an order of fries at the places we order them. I have not noticed leaving any larger quantity on the plate.

I haven’t noticed any portions getting smaller at restaurants I go to regularly, only higher prices.

I read yesterday that researchers for the Consumer Price Index track changes not just in price but in quantity and other characteristics. I still wonder if they track longevity, e.g. current refrigerators and dishwashers lasting only half as long as they did 20 years ago.

Fun read, thanks!

Well, I have experienced it here in New York. Anyway, the longevity phenomenon: they used to call this ‘planned obsolescence’.

Me neither. I’m in Manhattan.

No, this is a general decline in manufacturing quality. Planned obsolescence happens during the design phase. The most egregious example I’ve encountered was a cheap spice grinder with the rotor mechanism made entirely out of metal except for one plastic bit that was there for the sole purpose of wearing out. I could easily have repaired it if I’d had the tools to fabricate a metal replacement part.