Mark F Jones, the food and drink lawyer, legal expert and partner at Gordons LLP, in Gordons LLP Head office

Mark Jones quoted by The Guardian on Shrinkflation’s impact on consumer

Thursday 26th October 2023

Mark Jones, partner and an expert in food and drink, has been quoted by The Guardian on how shrinkflation has impacted consumers. You can read the full article here.

Mark said: “Shrinkflation came into its own, and spread like wildfire, after the financial crisis in 2008. Consumers felt the squeeze and manufacturers wanted to avoid increasing ‘on the shelf prices’.

“The ONS concluded 2,529 products reduced in size in the five-year period between 2012-2017. Whilst we have not had updated shrinkflation data from the ONS since 2017, the trend has continued, with bread/cereals, personal care, meat and confectionary being the areas where the practice is most prevalent.

“This trend has led to some supermarkets, most notably Carrefour in France, think French Tesco, putting stickers on the edge of its shelves to highlight products which are getting smaller while prices are not.

“As the public’s awareness of shrinkflation has grown, so has the manufacturer’s tactics. Now we see a new trend, a trend of tweaking the ingredients to reduce costs, rather than the overall quantity of the goods.

“Tesco has reduced the beef in their cottage pie from 22 per cent to 19 per cent, Heck reduced the chicken quantity from 85 per cent to 70 per cent and back in 2018, Cadbury’s started reducing the sugar in its products.

“This type of ‘shrinkflation’, is something which is almost impossible to spot unless you pour over the ingredient quantities in the products you purchase which consumers just don’t do. But the costs saving to the manufacturers is huge. A 15 per cent reduction in the most expensive commodity in your product is an appreciable saving.

“Unfortunately, we have not had data from the ONS or anyone else on the extent of this practice. We may, in fact, never get such data because it is incredibly hard to track, and even more difficult to know the motivation behind a reformulation.

“So, the reality is, the manufacturers have found a new shrinkflation and, possibly, one we can’t highlight when it happens.”

Find out more about Gordons’ expertise in food and drink here.