Bread and cereals hit by shrinkflation

21 January 2019

Cereals and bread are the food categories that have been hit most by shrinkflation, according to a report.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found 206 products in all categories had shrunk in size, while 79 increased, when it studied the price of 17,000 items between September 2015 and June 2017.

And while it may have been expected that the fall in the value of the pound sparked by the Brexit vote would lead to more shrinkflation, due to a rise in the price of imported materials, this did not occur.

“There was no trend in the frequency of size changes over this period, which included the EU referendum,” the ONS said.

The ONS found 36 cases of shrinkflation among bread and cereals. The next two categories with the largest number of shrinkflation cases were meat and confectionary.

Food categories with most product size changes included bread and cereals, meat, and sugar, jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery.

The non-food categories with the most size increases and reductions were appliances, personal care products such as toilet rolls, nappies and tissues, and non-durable household goods such as kitchen roll and washing-up liquid.

Among the treats found to have shrunk substantially since 2012 are Toblerone, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Maltesers. Makers have blamed the shrinkage on higher cocoa prices.

But the ONS said, contrary to popular opinion, shrinkflation was not widespread.

“Overall, [such products] represented a small minority of products in our sample,” said the report.

However, the ONS also stressed that for the purpose of measuring inflation it targets high-expenditure, easy-to-follow products.

“As a result, the size changes in our sample will not necessarily be representative of the changes occurring in the market as a whole,” it said.

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