If you think inflation is bad and is eroding your purchasing power, it might actually be even worse than it seems.
For example, you might think that block of chocolate is lasting less than it used to. But the truth is that the manufacturer is making a smaller block, and selling it to you for the same price – or in some cases higher.
One of the quirks that analysts are starting to observe is what they call “shrinkflation”, which is the way in which some corporates are getting you to pay the same price but giving you less. And in many cases you won’t even notice.
ABC finance guru Alan Kohler had a brilliant report this week which lifted the lid on shrinkflation and he gave some incredible examples.
He showed a packet of popular breakfast cereal, Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes. The packet used to be 670 grams and its now 640 grams, and the price for the smaller weight has actually gone up.
There used to be 60 matches in a box of Redhead matches, but now there is only 45. Same price.
Not so many people use matches these days, so Kohler used a much more popular example – Cadbury chocolate. The iconic Dairy Milk chocolate used to be 250 grams a block, but now it is 180 grams but Cadbury are still charging the same.
The reality is that most of us are too busy and have too many other things going on our lives to even think about this when we shop. We just grab the item and throw it in the trolley.
The point at which most of us notice it is when we finally pay the bill, but checking the receipt won’t necessarily tell the whole story.
This is particularly the case if your box of Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes doesn’t last as long as it used to do.
No, it’s not your imagination and you are not eating more in each bowl – the fact is that you bought a smaller box.
If you really want to track this, Alan Kohler’s advice is to focus on what is called the unit price, which gives you the actual price for what you pay for.
“The only way to fight the buggers is to be like a statistician and focus on unit price and take your calculator with you to the supermarket,” Kohler said.
“Or better still shop online where you can sort by unit price.”
Not all of us will do this but it’s good to be aware that the “buggers” – as Alan Kohler called them – are out there and doing this to us, and that in many cases we are getting less than we thought we paid for.
- Mars chocolate bars. You used to get 53 grams, now you get 47 grams but still pay $2
- Arnotts Tina Wafers used to be 250 grams per packet and are now only 200 grams. You still pay $3.05.
- Weet-Bix. The boxes have dropped from 1.5kg to 1.2kg and are now down to 1.12kg.
- Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. Once 250grams, now 180 grams.
- Once 160 grams of chips, now 134 grams.
- Crunchy Nut corn flakes. In 2019, a 670 gram box cost $6. Now, $9 will buy you a 640 gram box
- Froot Loops. Boxes have downsized from 500 grams to 460 grams, but still cost $9
- Purina dry adult catfood. Once came in 1.5kg packaging, now in 1.4kg but the price has increased
- Bags were once 144 grams, are now 132 grams
- Smiths crips. Bags have shrunk from 200 grams to 170 grams