Grocery shoppers are being hit by hidden price hikes in the form of 'shrinkflation', with packet sizes for popular brands such as Birds Eye, Maltesers and Mr Kipling getting smaller, according to a new analysis.
The value of the pound fell sharply in June last year after the country voted to leave the EU - something which reportedly sparked October's brief 'Marmite war' between manufacturer Unilever and retailer Tesco.
Now a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation has identified a list of 14 products which have been shrunk since June, though in many cases the price has stayed the same or even risen. It's a change which Dispatches is linking to Brexit's effect on the pound, though retailers reject this.
Dispatches has released the list ahead of its documentary Supermarkets, Brexit and your Shrinking Shop, which airs on Channel 4 at 8pm tonight (Monday 20 Feb). Here's how packet sizes have shrunk - plus an extra column we've added, based on data from the comparison site Mysupermarket, which lists prices publicly available on supermarkets' websites.
'Shrinkflation' of supermarket products
|Product*||Original size (i)||New size (i)||Cheapest supermarket (ii)|
|Asda Chopped Garlic||69g||54g||Asda only - 74p at Asda|
|Asda Chosen By You Harissa Paste||95g||90g||Asda only - £2.10 at Asda|
|Asda Butcher's Selection Turkey Mini Fillets||573g||500g||Asda only - £4.50 at Asda|
|Birds Eye Fish Fingers||12 in a box||10 in a box||No data available|
|Bulmer's Original Cider||568ml||500ml||£1.50 at Sainsbury's and Ocado|
|Cadbury Highlights Bournville Fairtrade||220g||154g||£2.49 at Waitrose|
|Iceland Frozen Chips||1.5kg||1.25kg||Iceland only - £1 at Iceland|
|Maltesers||121g||103g||£1 at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons|
|Morland Old Speckled Hen Ale (12 pack)||500ml/bottle||440ml/bottle||Tesco only - £12 at Tesco|
|Morrisons Milk Bottle Sweets||80g||75g||Morrisons only - 37p at Morrisons|
|Mr Kipling Angel Slices||9 in a box||8 in a box||£1.12 at Iceland|
|Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Pork Chipolatas||20 in a pack||16 in a pack||Sainsbury's only - £3 at Sainsbury's|
|Tesco Curled Parsley||35g||30g||Tesco only - 70p at Tesco|
|Tropicana||1.75l||1.6l||£2.27 at Ocado|
|(i) Data provided by Channel 4 Dispatches (ii) Data accessed at www.mysupermarket.co.uk on 20/02/2017|
How to beat shrinkflation
Nobody enjoys seeing the cost of their weekly shop soar, but we've a host of savvy shopping tips to help make your money go further. Here are a few to start you off:
- Compare the cost of your trolley. Use the Mysupermarket comparison tool to benchmark the cost of your weekly shop at the major online supermarkets. (We've compared the cost of the individual items highlighted in the Dispatches report above).
- Bag discounts when you can. Check out our Supermarket deals page for the latest coupons, cashback and bargains.
- Don't be a brand slave. Whether it's bacon, biscuits or baked beans, try dropping one brand from your usual choice and if you can't tell the difference, stick with the cheaper one. Our Downshift Challenge tool can help you make the change.
- Keep your eyes on the prize. Supermarkets tend to place the most profitable stock at eye-level (or children's eye-level if it's targeted at them), yet profitable goods tend not to be the best deals for shoppers. Don't be distracted by this - look high and low for the best deals.
- Never shop when hungry. It's simple and obvious - if you're hungry, you're more likely to buy things you don't need.
What do supermarkets say?
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: "Sizing and pricing of products are regularly reviewed and are impacted by a number of factors, including the cost of raw materials, commercial negotiations with manufacturers and changing portion sizes. Prices and sizes of all products are clearly labelled so that customers can make informed decisions."
The BRC said retailers had been changing and reviewing product sizing for many years and added that the changes were not attributable to the impact of the decision to leave the EU.