Toblerone peaks reduced

Over 2,500 grocery products have been subject to ‘shrinkflation’ over the past five years, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

As many as 2,529 products on sale in UK shops have reduced in size while prices remained the same between January 2012 and July 2017, it found, compared with 614 products that have increased in size.

The phenomenon has not had any “noticeable” impact on overall grocery inflation over the past five years, according to the ONS, but it has pushed up inflation in the ‘sugar, jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery” category by 1.12 percentage points

Shrinkflation has been “used in practice consistently across the past five years” the ONS study confirmed, with “consistently more reductions across both the food category and non-food items” since June 2012.

The phenomenon does seem to have accelerated since last year’s Brexit vote, with as many as 550 products ‘shrunk’ between June 2016 and July 2017, compared with 407 in June 2015 to July 2016, and 454 in June 2014 to July 2015.

Recent victims of shrinkflation include Toblerone, Doritos, Peperami, Gü Puds, Richmond sausages, Maltesers and Minstrels, with brands mostly blaming a sharp rise in the cost of ingredients due to the currency volatility experienced since the EU referendum.

“Shrinkflation was borne out of the recession and has gathered staggering pace since 2009. The ONS’s report confirms this. Against the back drop of a weak economy, commodity prices have been rising over the last five years,” says Mark Jones, a food and drink solicitor at Gordons law firm.

“Suppliers and retailers do not want to raise the ‘on the shelf’ price, but both have had to adapt to increasing commodity prices. Shrinking the size of the products being sold, whether that is toilet paper, chocolate or cleaning products, is just another way of pushing through a price increase, but in a more subtle way.”