RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Although your food bill is going up, the amount of food you can buy for that price is going down and you may not even realize which items are costing you more but giving you less.
The experts call it Shrinkflation—or downsizing, but you can combat it. You just need to change the way you shop.
Shrinkflation works because most consumers are price oriented not net weight oriented so manufacturers can slip by price increases without you realizing it.
Raleigh resident Tom Schrantz is frustrated by Shrinkflation saying his food bill has “gone up at least 15/20 percent.”
Here’s how it works
Let’s say a box of cereal costs $5. The maker keeps the price the same but puts an ounce less of product in it.
An ounce of cereal is about a bowl’s worth. Let’s say at $5 a box, that ounce is worth 25 cents.
Multiply that by hundreds of thousands of boxes of cereal now produced with less content and you can see how the manufacturer makes more money without raising the price.
“I understand the reasoning behind it,” said Edgar Dworsky, the founder of Consumerworld.org.
“I don’t like it and you as a shopper shouldn’t like it—but you have to become aware of it.”
In the last few months, Dworsky’s sister website, Mouseprint.org has chronicled a tidal wave of products that have been downsized. It includes everything from plant food to laundry detergent to beauty products and snack foods.
Dworsky’s advice for the average person is to look at the net weight and the net count for paper products.
He also said you shouldn’t be brand loyal when it comes to Shrinkflation.
“If you see an item that you buy all the time has gotten smaller, see if a competitor is still the old size,” he said.
Those little white labels on store shelves below the products are called unit pricing tags.
They can help you find the best deal because they allow you to compare different brands and prices based on weight and size.
“That tells you the price you pay per ounce or 100 count,” said Dworsky. “That’s the great leveler.”
Also, don’t ignore the private label.
“See if the store brand is still the right size because they are one of the last ones to downsize,” said Dworsky.
Shopper Laura Zielinski is willing to change from name brands to private labels to get more value.
“A fair amount of them are similar and I will look for best deal as far as prices or what’s on special that week,” said Zielinski.
Also check your pantry. You’d be surprised at the number of unopened items you have stored away that you can use before buying more of the same.