ALL NEWS

It’s true, your toilet paper roll and bag of cookies are slimming down

Mar 28, 2022, 10:00 AM

shrinkflation...

Charmin Ultra Strong toilet paper is on display on a supermarket shelf on October 15, 2021, in Arlington, Virginia. - More air in that bag of chips? Fewer flakes in your cereal box? You're not imagining it: "Shrinkflation," a tactic used by industry to hide price increases, is back in vogue. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Sound up for the discussion about “shrinkflation” on Dave and Dujanovic!

 
Originally Published: 08 MAR 22 07:23 ET

(CNN) — Slimmed down toilet paper, fewer cookies in a bag, less conditioner in squeeze tubes.

The changes are subtle and might evade less discerning shoppers. But retail industry experts say we could see more consumer products start shrinking in size or quantity — or both — because of rising costs.

Record levels of inflation means households are paying more for everyday purchases and it’s costing companies more to produce packaged items like paper products, shampoos as well as food and beverage products.

Companies can raise prices, and many are. Others are charging customers the same price while offering less.

Product downsizing, also known as “shrinkflation,” is happening with toilet paper, said Edgar Dworsky, a former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts who is a consumer advocate and editor of website ConsumerWorld.org.

“Downsizing happens during times of high inflation because companies that make everyday products are also paying more for raw materials, production and delivery costs,” said Dworsky, who’s tracking how period of high inflation impact consumer products for three decades.

Dworsky said product downsizing is becoming increasingly prevalent, and he recently picked up on several instances of brands inconspicuously shrinking the size of their products.

For example, Procter &Gamble’s Charmin’s ultra soft toilet paper 18-count mega package now contains 244 two-ply sheets, down from a previous 264 double-ply sheets per roll. And super mega rolls of the brand now display 366 sheets versus a previous 396 sheets per roll.

“That amounts to losing the equivalent of about a roll and a half in the new 18-count package,” he said.

Dworsky noted the large-size toilet paper packs are most commonly stocked in stores now. “It’s almost impossible to find a four-pack,” he said.

Although he doesn’t track product prices, Dworsky said when product downsizing happens, consumers end up either paying more for less of the product or the same price but for less of it.

“This doesn’t mean that every toilet paper product from Procter & Gamble will see a change. But my guess is that changes to more products are coming,” he said, adding that he will have an upcoming report on other toilet paper brands.

In its most recent earnings call, Procter & Gamble executives acknowledged the company was facing a “challenging cost environment” due to continued effects of the pandemic on supply chains, a tight labor market and as “availability of materials remains stretched.”

Consequently, P&G said it was raising prices to its retail customers for 10 product categories, including detergents, dryer sheets, baby and feminine care products.

In an email to CNNBusiness, Procter & Gamble pointed to various reasons for variations in sizes of its products and that store prices are determined solely by retailers.

“There is a cost element to innovation — adjusting the count per pack or the package size is one way of reinvesting in this innovation while maintaining a competitive price point,” the company said.

P&G said it also tailors product sizes to different retailers. So rolls may have shrunk at some stores but not others.

“At the same retailer, the assortment you find in a suburban location may vary from what is in a smaller-footprint urban retail location — and versus what is on a retailer’s website,” it said.

Why “shrinkflation” happens

The “shrinkflation” phenomenon is nothing new. The practice is typically triggered when inflation surges and companies’ costs go up.

When costs rise, manufacturers of consumer goods look for ways to offset the increases they are paying for commodities, transportation, labor and other expenses. They either raise prices on existing products or whittle down the sizes of existing goods, thereby increasing the price per unit of what you’re getting.

Those increases are passed on to shoppers via stores, who purchase products from consumer goods companies.

Other recent examples of downsized products Dworsky noticed were Keebler Cookies. He said the Chips Deluxe with M&Ms package had gone down to 9.75 from a previous 11.3 ounce per package.

Shoppers have alerted him to new Gatorade bottles which hold less beverage — 28 fluid ounce down 32 fluid ounce — and a change in the packaging for Pantene conditioner to a slimmer squeeze tube that also holds two ounces less of the product.

“For consumer products companies, raising prices for consumers is the last resort. That’s because price increases in stores are highly noticeable by shoppers and can influence demand,” said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s business school.

Instead, companies make subtle adjustments to products and packaging. “For consumers, this is kind of an annoyance…. or a concern depending on the product we’re talking about,” said Cohen. “I do believe inflation will be here for a while and we will see such product adjustments continue to happen.”

— CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this story

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych, on Wednesday April 24, 202...

Pan Pylas, Associated Press

Rush hour chaos in London as 5 military horses run amok after getting spooked during exercise

LONDON (AP) — Five military horses spooked by noise from a building site bolted during routine exercises on Wednesday near Buckingham Palace, threw off four riders and caused chaos as they galloped loose through central London streets and collided with vehicles during the busy morning rush hour. The commotion erupted when the horses from the […]

5 hours ago

House Speaker Mike Johnson talks to the press after the House passed four foreign aid bills at the ...

Haley Talbot, Lauren Fox and Clare Foran, CNN

Johnson calls on Columbia University president to resign during tense news conference

House Speaker Mike Johnson called on Columbia University’s president to resign Wednesday during a tense news conference.

6 hours ago

Agriculture officials said the fire most likely started after a piece of equipment malfunctioned at...

Emma Keddington and Simone Seikaly

Equipment malfunction suspected after fire at Utah egg farm

A 21,000 square foot barn at Oakdell Egg Farms quickly caught fire when a power washer caught fire.

7 hours ago

FILE: An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesda...

Britt Johnson

Salt Lake City Fire conduct arson investigation Tuesday morning

An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

9 hours ago

Wine bottles are pictured at a state liquor store in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020....

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: How people get drunk WITHOUT drinking

Try explaining this condition to a cop.

9 hours ago

Ahead of the NHL to Utah party on Wednesday, Utahns crowded the plaza of the Delta Center and waite...

Simone Seikaly, Eric Cabrera, Emma Keddington, Adam Small

Utahns showing up for the NHL in Utah

Ahead of the NHL to Utah party, Utahns crowded the plaza of the Delta Center and waited in long lines for the party to start.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

It’s true, your toilet paper roll and bag of cookies are slimming down