Price inflation is a major problem right now, but so is its cousin, shrinkflation! That's when products say the same price while becoming smaller. Fewer grams, fewer mL, 6 hotdog buns instead of 8, small fries with a combo instead of medium, and so on. You get less but you pay the same. It's another way - a less honest one - that companies use to offset rising costs. In this post, I want to highlight a particular example of shrinkflation: smaller bread loaves!
Bread is a very commonly-purchased item for most people. We all know what the price of a loaf of bread is, and we notice when it changes. The words for "bread" and "money" are the same in many languages. A slang word for money is "dough". Humans have made bread for thousands of years. Bread is used as a loss leader in many stores - they don't make a profit on it, but hope the buyer will also grab something else when they visit. There was even a massive class action lawsuit here in Canada a few years ago, when it was found the big bread companies were colluding to fix the price of bread, impacting literally millions of people for several years. Bread is a big industry and a major part of most people's lives.
Which means it's hard to raise bread prices. Yes, they do it every so often, because they have to. Dollars aren't worth what they used to be, which we experience as price inflation. But lately, shrinkflation is the tactic being used to stay profitable, since it's easier to hide. That means smaller slices, and less of them.
Take the above loaf, for example. I don't remember how many slices there used to be, but now there are 14 (and that includes the 2 crusts). Each slice is so small, even loaded with peanut butter or hummus, it takes just 5 bites to finish off. A single slice isn't even a snack. I made a sandwich the other day, and the tomato slice was bigger than it was. 14 tiny slices. That's 70 bites of food. I used to have to worry about my bread going stale before I got to the end of the bag, but that's a distant memory now. My wife and I can polish off a loaf in a single day without trying. They've become tiny.
The product is shrinking, but the price is staying the same. In fact, it has been creeping upward over the past couple years. This loaf, because it lacks wheat (a cheap filler grain used in almost everything), costs $8 plus tax. You can still get a loaf of wheat bread for $6. I remember just 20 years ago buying loaves of bread for $2 or less.
60 cents a slice. 5 bites. That's 12 cents per bite - for plain bread!
Curveball: Costco offers a double pack of this bread for about ten bucks, but it costs me $60 to get to Costco, and a yearly membership. I hire a ride once a month to Costco, and stock up on bread.
Note: Yes, it would be cheaper to make it myself. That's how I do pretty much everything else in my life - right from scratch. That allows me to customize the ingredients and method, and bring down costs. I haven't made that leap with bread yet, but it's something I want to do once I move and have a proper kitchen.
Here's a photo I took of a "large" orange. The price was the same, but now it's mostly packaging!
Okay, that's mostly a joke, but still. I swear I managed to eat that whole orange in about 20 seconds. You'd need a bag of them if you wanted a proper snack.
How about you, has bread gone up in price there? Have loaves been slowly getting smaller? What about shrinkflation you've noticed in other things?