Shoppers who have already had to come to terms with rising prices and shrinking pack sizes now have to deal with "skimpflation". Guardian Money has reported that supermarkets and manufacturers have been quietly changing recipes and reducing the size of some of their products to keep shelf prices down.
It began investigating supermarket prices after being approached by a reader who had noticed that the Aldi spread he had bought contained only 10% olive oil when previously it was 21%.
Customers have picked up on some of the changes these supermarkets have introduced. On Sainsbury’s website, one customer reviewing its own-brand olive oil spread wrote: “This used to have 21% olive oil in it which, with its cheaper price than the popular brand, made it a good alternative. Now the recipe only has 10%. Profit first.”
Another shopper, on the Tesco website, says: “These tissues have changed. They are now nothing like the description. They are not luxury, soft, gentle and definitely NOT extra-large. Very inferior.”
Sue Davies, the head of food policy at the consumer group Which?, called it worrying that people could be “inadvertently paying more for less”.
She added: “While shoppers may be deterred from buying a product if they can see the packet getting smaller or the prices going up, they are less likely to notice manufacturers and supermarkets quietly changing the ingredients of products.
“If you are concerned about the ingredients of your favourite items, be sure to check the label carefully when shopping and compare with other brands of the same product to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal.”
What is skimpflation?
“Skimpflation” is when companies “skimp” on the quality of the product or service.
This happens because companies cut back on the quality of the service so it can still be profitable.
A survey by Barclays found that 2% of Britons have reported seeing a downgrade in the quality of ingredients in their favourite products while the cost remains the same or has increased.
Out of those who had noticed changes, 44% had seen a change in the quality of crisp products, 43% had seen the same for sweets and chocolate, and 36% thought that their favourite cakes or biscuits were inferior to before.
How is it different from shrinkflation?
While skimpflation is when the quality of something decreases, “shrinkflation” is when the volume or size of a product shrinks.
This can take place without consumers even realising, as they are less likely to weigh a product and notice the difference compared to a price hike.
What are some examples of skimpflation?
Examples Guardian Money found in its research include:
Morrisons Guacamole - The ingredients used to include 80% avocado and 5% red onion but now show 77% avocado and an unspecified amount of onion.
Aldi Specially Selected Pesto Rosso 190g - This used to contain 33% extra virgin olive oil and 26% rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes. Now it is 27% extra virgin olive oil and 23% rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes.
Tesco Soft Extra Large Tissues - This product had been 300mm x 260mm but measured 280mm x 235mm in Guardian Money’s test.
Tesco Springforce Jumbo Kitchen Towel Sheets - These used to be 210mm x 210mm but are now 195mm x 200mm.
Aldi Bramwells Real Mayonnaise - It used to list 9% egg yolk but now lists 6% egg and 1.5% egg yolk.
Bertolli, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s olive oil spreads - In these spreads, 21% olive oil has been reduced to 10%.