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Coles, Woolworths, IGA under fire over ‘shrinkflation’ of popular products

Consumer group CHOICE has revealed the latest supermarket products to fall victim to “shrinkflation”.

The grocery items that are getting smaller in size but not in price have been revealed, as shoppers call out the frustrating tactic being seen in Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarket aisles.

A CHOICE investigation has revealed 10 grocery items that have been hit by ‘shrinkflation’, including cereals, hot cross buns and chips offered by the supermarkets’ own brands.

Shrinkflation is when a product gets smaller in weight or volume, but its price remains the same - or, sometimes, even increases. It essentially means shoppers are paying the same price for a product but getting less of it.

Image of supermarket aisle and IGA, Woolworths and Coles products accused of shrinkflation.
Coles, Woolworths and IGA grocery items are among those that have been hit by 'shrinkflation', CHOICE says.

Do you have a supermarket story to share? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

“Shrinkflation is happening more and more often, and consumers are frustrated at its prevalence in supermarkets,” CHOICE’s Liam Kennedy said.

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“We’ve heard from many people who say their favourite products have reduced in size, and in some cases, become more expensive.”

Here are three examples of products that have been hit by shrinkflation.

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1. Cereals

Cereals are a common offender of shrinkflation, with CHOICE specifically calling out Coles and Woolworths on their shrinking own-brand products.

“Coles’ Mighty Grain was being sold in 560g packets in October 2022, but now can only be found in 495g packages for the same price of $4.50,” Kennedy said.

“Woolworths has also downsized one of its cereal products - Max Charge cereal was sold in 560g packs until September last year, when the retailer began offering it in 495g packs instead.”

The price has also remained at $4.50 over this time, meaning customers are paying almost 14 per cent more for each 100g of the cereal.

Cereal shrinkflation
Coles and Woolworths' home brand cereal has gotten smaller in size but remained the same price.

2. Chips

You’ve probably also noticed that packets of chips - including supermarket brands - are getting smaller.

“Woolworths’ Original Salted Corn Chips were $2.30 for 200g in October 2023 and, while the price has remained the same, the packet size has reduced to 175g now,” Kennedy said.

The change means shoppers are again paying almost 14 per cent more per 100g of the corn chips.

3. Hot cross buns

Metcash’s IGA has also been accused of shrinkflation with its Community Co hot cross buns offering.

“Community Co’s traditional and chocolate varieties have shrunk by 30g since last year, going from 480g to 450g,” Kennedy said.

“However, they’ve also been hit with a price increase, bumping them from $4.00 to $4.50.”

Hot cross buns
Community Co, which is owned by Metcash, hot cross buns have also fallen victim. (Source: CHOICE)

Why is shrinkflation happening?

Brands have commonly cited rising production costs as the reason their products are shrinking in size.

Woolworths and Coles said the changes to their chips and cereal sizes were requested by the supplier of the goods, who said they were facing rising costs. The supermarkets told CHOICE they were not profiting from the changes.

Meanwhile, Metcash said it had recently changed manufacturers who dictated the size decrease. It also pointed to higher prices for ingredients and a recipe change on its chocolate hot cross buns.

Retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer told Yahoo Finance that reducing the size of products is often the only way supermarkets can absorb increased costs while keeping prices the same.

He said this tactic was nothing new and meant consumers could avoid being charged higher prices.

"Manufacturers have engaged in content-reduction strategies for many years," Mortimer said. "We could look at brands like Cadbury's, which have been known to shrink the size of the chocolate."

CHOICE believes supermarkets should be required to let customers know when a product has changed in size and value, so customers can make informed decisions when shopping.

“During a cost-of-living crisis, this is more important than ever,” Kennedy said.

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