Published: Tue, July 25, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

"Shrinkflation" leads to 2529 products reducing in size

The ONS also said there was no noticeable change after last year's referendum decision to leave the European Union which hit the value of the pound and made imports more expensive.

In all the ONS said some 2,529 products it monitored in the United Kingdom shrank in size between January 2012 and June 2017.

"As part of this process [calculating inflation], we look out for pack sizes changing so that we can make sure we're comparing like with like", the ONS said. And while the move has had little impact on the headline rate of inflation, the change in packet size has triggered a 1.22 percentage point rise within the sub-category of sugar, jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery.

Since 2012, the inflation rate for products such as chocolate was actually 1.22% higher, when the smaller size was taken into account.

Andrex toilet paper. In 2016, consumer watchdog Which found that the size of a roll of Andrex had shrunk by 8%, dropping from 240 sheets per roll, to just 221.

Dettol Power and Pure Bathroom Wipes: decreased from 36 to 32 wipes, an 11% reduction.

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One driver of the trend for shrinkflation is the cost of core ingredients in things like chocolate bars.

The ONS also dismissed speculation about a "Brexit" effect, saying the phenomenon had not become notably more prevalent since the Brexit vote. Producer Mars has said it was a way of helping consumers afford the product.

Toblerone has shrunk by 12%, with larger spaces between the triangular "mountains".

'But our analysis doesn't show a noticeable change following the referendum that would point towards a Brexit effect.

A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation, which represents United Kingdom food and drink manufacturers, said companies are facing "sharp increases" in the cost of ingredients and packaging, while the falling strength of the pound since the Brexit vote has added to "massive cost pressures". However, the European import price of sugar sank to its lowest level on record in March, while cocoa prices have dropped sharply since the record highs of 2015. They say this prevents them from having to put the cost up.

However, the ONS has cast doubt on whether raw material costs are really rising. The prices of both white sugar and cocoa are now nearing five year lows having peaked in July last year.

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