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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7


The last few years you may have noticed that some of your favourite brands just feel that little bit lighter in your hand at the supermarket or the amount of portions you normally get from a product just does not stretch as far as it used to before it has run out. Welcome to the world of shrinkflation. This word has been coined a while now to describe what food manufacturers are playing at in order to recover the costs of increased food, energy and labour costs in the last while and not have to pass on these unavoidable increases in the form of higher prices to the consumers.

   It came to mind again for me lately when the annual year on year food price comparisons were number crunched for some common supermarket items and the biggest one was a doubling of the price of a packet of popular biscuits and the quantity you get was reduced by a whopping quarter and in just twelve months. Now that is some confidence trick to pull off for the shopper to be duped by, surely that one takes the biscuit. I was given a bag of well known crisps lately with less than an ounce of them to eat.

It’s not just biscuits though; the magical disappearances are being performed right across the shopping aisles. Everything from flour based products like bread and pasta to sweet treats ones like jam and desserts are getting downsized as well as even non food items like toilet rolls.

Not only does the food industry have to put up with serious inflation for the first time in thirty years but the global instabilities have made some essential ingredients very expensive so there was no escaping the effect it would have on our shopping bills.Looking around the supermarket this week I was not surprised to see the big jump in items I would not normally buy but I knew how cheap they had been previously.

The first giveaway for me is when traditional sizes of say a litre or 500g are now suddenly 850ml or 400g. You will have definitely seen it with your boxes of sweets this Christmas as the better known the product; the harder it is for the manufacturers to hide the new lesser size. The only compensation is that we will be eating less so that will help our obesity epidemic.

   The inflation and cost of living crisis has led to staffing pay rises too so with higher wages to deal with and the soaring cost of oil and gas making the production and transport of all foods more expensive to make so then there was only one thing for it. There were either going to be big jumps in the prices for the shopper which would have scared off a lot of customers doing their normal shop or we were simply going to get less in our packets at the till, those air pockets are getting bigger. The other ingredient in all this is that we have had it so good for so long.

In the past so much more of our income would have been spent on food but in a couple of generations it has dramatically decreased. Our grandparents would have spent at least a quarter of income on food but now we only spend a sixth so that means food has just got cheaper with all the short cuts in making it last longer thanks to the  many additives and the speed of modern production with all the technical advances.

    There is no question that when we paid more for the food it was of a higher quality. The super processed cheaper foods we consume now just cannot be as healthy. My advice is always buy food in its most natural state and if the label has twenty or more ingredients then you have to ask yourself the hard question, do you really want to eat this? One good rule is never put anything in your trolley that your granny would not recognise. With the New Year upon us and everyone going cold turkey on crash diets it may be the best way to make the change in our lifestyle by literally eating less.

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