The Which? study says products are shrinking in size, but not price with some companies even increasing the original price to offset costs. Manufacturers argue the size reductions are to avoid the need to hike prices in the long term.
However, 58 per cent of shoppers would prefer to pay more for goods than take home less. A further 37 per cent said it was fine for pack sizes to shrink, but only if they were told about it, while only 3 per cent said they were fine with not being informed.
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, says: “If supermarkets aren’t being charged less, it isn’t surprising that prices don’t drop when products shrink. Shrinking products can be an underhand way of raising prices because pack sizes shrink but the prices don’t. We want simpler pricing so people can easily compare products to see which is the cheapest, and for special offers to be genuine.”
The consumer group found a packet of Birds Eye beef burgers now has 12 instead of 16 although the price has risen from £3.98 to £4.29. It also revealed a packet of Thorntons mini caramel shortcakes costs around £1.50 despite a 17 per cent reduction in size. The chocolate maker said shrinking the size of its products “allowed for better promotions”.
Nestlé is Munchies and Dolmio Express pasta sauces are also down in size but prices have dropped too. Which says Nestlé refused to say if the price drop was in proportion to the amount its products shrank.
Many of the manufacturers said retailers ultimately set prices, but refused to say whether they reduced the wholesale price or set a lower recommended retail price when the product shrank.