If you’ve ever thought that your favorite packaged food products have gotten smaller, it’s not in your head — that’s shrinkflation. You’ve heard of inflation, as prices on just about everything have risen over the past few years — but shrinkflation is the practice of charging you the same amount for less product.
Imagine if stores sold you 11 eggs in a carton instead of 12, but charged the same amount. That’s basically what shrinkflation is. While you aren’t paying more out-of-pocket, your unit cost is definitely rising. Plenty of brands are doing this right now — even restaurants — because studies show that customers hate higher prices more than smaller products. We’ve got the proof.
Fueled by the many examples shared via the r/shrinkflation subreddit on Reddit, we’ve rounded up the best examples for you here.
What is Shrinkflation?
Have you ever opened a bag of chips and felt like it’s more air than chips? That’s shrinkflation at work. By comparison, inflation is when prices go up, and your money doesn’t go as far as it used to. It’s like needing more coins to play your favorite arcade game. When products shrink but prices don’t, it’s like a hidden price hike. So, even though the price tag hasn’t changed, you’re actually paying more for less. This makes everything a bit more expensive, and that’s how shrinkflation adds to inflation.
When we look at which products are getting more expensive, we reference the government’s Consumer Price Index. And the CPI watches Shrinkflation, too. If a product gets smaller but costs the same, the CPI logs that as a price increase.
What kinds of products experience Shrinkflation?
- Snacks: Snacks like chips, cookies, and candy bars are often hit by shrinkflation. These are the usual suspects where you might notice the package feels lighter or the contents seem less, but the price hasn’t budged.
- Household Essentials: Items like toilet paper, laundry detergent, and paper towels often fall prey to shrinkflation too. You might notice the rolls are narrower or there are fewer sheets. The bottle of detergent that used to last a month now runs out quicker, but did the price drop? Nope.
- Beverages: From juice boxes to soda cans, you might find they’re holding less liquid than they used to.
How can you spot Shrinkflation?
Being aware of product sizes and unit cost is key to uncovering shrinkflation. Here’s how you can develop that awareness:
- Pay attention: Most of the time, you can tell when a frequently purchased product is smaller or lighter.
- Take notes: For your most-often bought items, write down product sizes, number of servings, and prices — and reference your notes whenever you buy those items to see if anything has changed.
- Shop online: Before you buy one of your staples, compare the listed product size to the sizes listed in your previous order history.
- Look out for branding/packaging changes: If you see a new packaging design or a banner saying “New and Improved,” it might be a signal that the product has changed. Companies often use these tricks to distract from the fact they’ve reduced the amount you’re getting.
Arm & Hammer Detergent: Cutting weight like an Olympic wrestler.
Plenty of Redditors are sharing their dismay that Arm & Hammer’s various lines of detergent have become the clothes-cleaning equivalent of the “incredible shrinking man”. One shopper (u/jamupguy1989) said his bottle of Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin detergent dropped half a gallon in size in just a three-month period.
Strangely, the Sensitive Skin Detergent Mega Value Pack bottle claimed to still have 170 loads, even after dropping 26% in size.
Some more details from these photos, in case you can’t see the print on the labels:
- Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Detergent, Mega Value Pack: From 229.5 fl oz to 170 fl oz (26% reduction)
- Arm & Hammer Plus Oxy Clean Max Detergent: From 250 fl oz to 200 fl oz (20% reduction)
- Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin: From 144.5 fl oz to 125 fl oz (13.5% reduction)
Doritos: You’re eating 22 fewer chips per bag now.
Not too long ago, the regular bag of Doritos would contain 11 oz of chips. Then, a few years ago, it dropped to 9.75 oz. Then 9.5 oz. Now it’s 9.25 oz. That means we’ve gone from 137-ish Doritos per bag to around 115 Doritos. A 16% reduction doesn’t sound like a big deal until you think about the 22 Doritos you’ll never eat.
Xtend BCAA: You can still get 30 servings out of 15 fewer grams of powder, right?
A sharp-eyed shopper noticed that the Xtend brand of blind chain amino acids (BCAAs) was a little smaller at the same price — and apparently, the bottle claims to have the same number of servings in it, despite the fact that the bottles shrank from 420 grams to 405 grams (3.5% less).
Costco Kirkland Signature Paper Towels: Even the buy-in-bulk place has gotten less bulky.
Remember when we couldn’t find rolls of paper towels at Costco during the pandemic? Maybe they got scared about running out again, or maybe shrinkflation was appealing, but now we’re seeing the standard 2-ply Kirkland Signature paper towels going from 1,026 sq ft to 898 sq ft — a 12.5% reduction. Solution? Spill things 12.5% less often.
M&M’s Sharing Size: We’ve got one more reason to not actually share this package of M&Ms.
The Sharing Size of M&Ms had 10.7-oz worth of candies just a couple of years ago. But now, someone ate that extra 0.7 oz, because it’s not in the bags anymore. The new 10-oz bags now have about 22 fewer M&Ms in them nowadays, which means I’m definitely not sharing. That was your allotment.
The Laughing Cow Spreadable Cheese: Nobody’s laughing at a 10% reduction.
Don’t worry, the number of spreadable cheese wedges in the pack is the same. Your eight wedges will each weigh 0.675 oz, though, instead of 0.75 oz. I know. You’re devastated, too… because you still have to pay the same price for the 10% reduction in product.
My Mochi Ice Cream: Now with fewer calories — because there’s less product.
While it’s exciting to see one of your favorite treats suddenly experience a caloric reduction (yay diet!), the euphoria wears off when you realize it’s because the little mochi bites are smaller. I’m talking a quarter-ounce smaller. The total 9 oz of My Mochi has shrunk down to 7.5 oz — a 17% reduction! At least the calories went down more than that (20%).
Arizona Peach Green Tea: A couple of drops less refreshing.
This redditor peeled back the price tag at the grocery store to find that her Arizona Peach Green Tea was a 23-oz bottle in January, and dropped an ounce in June. Not a huge change compared to other instances of shrinkflation, but it qualifies.
Ajax Ultra Dish Soap: Skinnier bottle, 11% less soap.
The 14 fl oz bottle of Ajax Ultra is no more, instead being replaced by a slimmer, smaller 12.4 fl oz bottle. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to clean 11.4% fewer dishes.
Vanity Fair Napkins: You’re gonna need to be 9% cleaner, OK?
Just like the Costco paper towels, Vanity Fair napkins are selling fewer paper products in their packages. The “everyday casual napkins” just got a little more casual by going from 110 napkins to 100 napkins. Each napkin is still the same size, though.
Spectracide: You’ll kill 7.5% fewer wasps and hornets.
Between 2022 and 2023, Spectracide shrank their cans of Wasp & Hornet Killer from 20 oz to 18.5 oz. Is it still called the “value size” if it’s smaller? What was the old “non-value” size?
Ben & Jerry’s: When a pint isn’t quite a pint anymore.
Now, pints do weigh different amounts whether they’re “dry” or “wet”, but Ben & Jerry’s previously went on record saying that they were dedicated to 16-oz pints (and even threw a little shade at Häagen Dazs for having 14-oz pints). But it looks like this pint of Mousse Pie clocks in at 15.1 oz — a full 5.6% less than the promised 16 ounces.
Wish Bone Italian Salad Dressing: Same size — but more filler.
This one got lots of comments on Reddit because it’s an especially sneaky version of shrinkflation. The bottles are actually the same exact size. But when you look at the back of the bottles, you’ll see what they did. Ingredients are listed in order of the amount. This salad dressing saw a reduction in garlic, and an increase of fillers — namely, water and soybean oil.
Post, General Mills, and more are also getting called out for offering up to 42% less product for the same price.
Here’s a list of products that have quietly gotten smaller but still cost the same based on our research on TheKrazyCouponLady.com. We did the work for you and calculated how much it shrank and how much money you’re overspending by:
What items have shrunk that you’ve noticed lately? Tell us in the comments.