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Shrinking pack sizes

Food manufacturers like Smith's and Cadbury are offering less without reducing the price.

hand over bowl of chips shrinking pack sizes lead
Last updated: 08 July 2022


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Food companies feeling the pinch continue to downsize products without downsizing the price.

The latest example is Smith's crinkle cut potato chips, which were recently slashed from 175g to 170g per pack, or about three chips less.

The company, owned by American food and beverage mega-giant PepsiCo, has reportedly said it needed to shrink the pack size to make up for higher manufacturing costs. No notification was given to consumers, who may not have noticed the 5g reduction when the new packs started appearing on supermarket shelves earlier this year.

PepsiCo's Red Rock Deli potato chips fell from 185g to 165g per pack last year without a corresponding fall in price.

And Smith's Potato Crisps and Doritos Corn Chips pack sizes went from 200g to 175g in 2010.

Cadbury's ups and downs

Smith's isn't the only culprit when it comes to giving consumers less and less. Earlier this year Cadbury Dairy Milk reduced the size of its iconic Freddo Frog product from 15g to 12g but didn't change the recommended retail price. In February Cadbury reduced its popular family chocolate block from 220g to 200g after reducing it from 250g to 200g in 2009 and then bumping it back to 220g in 2013.

Food packaging tricks

Aside from reducing pack sizes, food companies are pretty good at deceptive packaging. Among their favourite tricks are:

  • The size of chocolate bars is reduced, but the number of pieces stays the same.
  • Toilet rolls still look the same on the outside, but have fewer sheets because manufacturers have increased the diameter of the cardboard tube in the middle.
  • Breakfast cereals shrink in packet size but not in box size.
  • Man-size large tissues shrink in size, but not in name despite being significantly smaller.
  • Packets of chips shrink in contents, along with price, but the packet stays the same size so it looks like a saving.
  • Some soap looks the same until you take off the wrapper and discover the new bars have been cunningly reshaped to be more concave so you actually get less soap per bar.
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