According to reports, the company has reduced the weight of its Galaxy Smooth Milk bars from 110g to 100g, while increasing the price to £1.25 ($1.52) in some supermarkets - up from 99p for the 110g that was on sale in the summer.
'Shrinkflation’, first coined by an American economist Pippa Malmgren, has become an increasingly widespread policy as confectionery and food manufacturers struggle with rising commodity, energy, and labour costs since inflation began to rise rapidly after the pandemic.
The practice is legal if the quantity stated on the pack is accurate, but consumer watchdogs argue it can feel deceptive to consumers. Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumerworld.org, said that brands take advantage of the fact that shoppers are more price-conscious than net weight-conscious.
“They keep products at familiar prices in the hope that consumers won’t notice the backdoor price increase. However, it is up to consumers to pay close attention to these changes and be aware of the shrinking sizes,” he said.
A Mars spokesperson said in a statement: “We have been actively trying to find ways to absorb the rising costs of raw materials and operations, as we know the increase in the cost of living has impacted both consumers and businesses across the UK.
“Unfortunately, the growing pressures mean that more needs to be done. Reducing the size of our products is not a decision we have taken lightly but it is necessary.”
The company also claims that reducing the pack size was one way to prevent chocolate lovers from having to compromise on “quality or taste”.
French supermarket chain Carrefour reportedly began placing labels on its shelves to warn customers which products – including Lindt chocolate - had shrunk in size but increased in price. The strategy is to put pressure on the big brands to reassess their pricing policies.
Malmgren said in a LinkedIn post that brands are banking on the fact that most people won’t register these changes at the checkout. She said that we may have already passed peak shrinkflation, as manufacturers have already initiated most of the downsizing they feel they can get away with.
Swapnil Karkare, an economist and freelance writer, said: “Inflation throws us into so many things. We knew that businesses reduce package size and keep the prices unchanged – the traditional ‘shrinkflation’ … but ‘sneakflation’ is new – here, the prices are not known until we actually pay them. Quite sneaky.”