• Pricing
  • Get a Free Demo


How to Beat Shrinkflation in the Restaurant Industry

How to Beat Shrinkflation in the Restaurant Industry

The December 2023 Restaurant365 State Of The Industry survey revealed that more than 80% of the operators reported that their food expenses had increased and 89% said labor costs had increased.

This article first appeared in US News.

Key Takeaways 

  • Companies and businesses in the U.S. and abroad are shrinking product sizes to make up for higher costs.
  • It’s important to be aware of shrinkflation, but it’s not always easy to spot.
  • Snack foods are most at risk of shrinkflation but it’s also common with essentials and restaurants. 
  • Look for smaller size containers and less product. 
  • To combat shrinkflation, adjust your shopping habits. 
  • Notify the company when you are displeased about shrinkflation.

If you’re spending the same amount as always but seem to be running out of product much faster, odds are you’re right.

Shrinkflation is a way for companies to avoid raising prices but still turn a profit. Rather than charge more, they give less.

While this method can give the illusion that prices are unchanged, research indicates that consumers are not just noticing, but are frustrated and demanding greater transparency.

A February 2024 Data for Progress survey found that 83% of those polled support a requirement for companies to label products that have been reduced in size or weight.

Even without government intervention, you can combat the impact of shrinkflation by knowing more about it and adopting a few smart shopping strategies.

The Rise of Shrinkflation

Shrinkflation typically occurs during periods of heightened inflation. When the cost of producing goods rises, a company will need to make up the financial difference. Rather than increase the price, which can be off-putting to a shopper, they may decide to reduce the amount of product instead.

However, to a consumer, shrinkflation can seem like a sneaky sales tactic. The cost-cutting strategy has become such a concern that on Feb. 11, 2024, President Biden addressed the matter on X (formally Twitter). He affirmed that U.S. shoppers are noticing that some food and beverages are being sold in smaller increments but at the same price, and appealed to companies to halt the practice.

Shrinkflation is not just an American phenomenon, though. It’s happening across the world. According to a November 2023 Ipsos global poll, 46% of the respondents in 33 countries say they’ve noticed product sizes becoming smaller in their locations.

No matter where you are, therefore, awareness is key.

“If you’re looking at the package in the store, you might not even notice anything different, especially if they use the same branding,” says Julie Ramhold, senior staff writer at DealNews.com, a deal-comparison website.

When the product runs out faster than you remember, though, shrinkflation becomes obvious.

Consumer Goods Most at Risk of Shrinkflation

Chances are high you’ll see examples of shrinkflation at the drugstore and supermarket.

A 2023 YouGov survey found that more than half of consumers found snack foods such as chips, candy and nuts to be affected. And 46% of respondents found evidence of shrinkflation in dry goods like cereal, flour, sugar, pasta and rice, while 35% noticed it in paper goods and 34% percent noticed it in cleaning products.

Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and lawyer in Somerville, Massachusetts, discovered clear evidence of shrinkflation among a wide span of retail products sold at grocery stores. In his December 2023 Consumer World newsletter, Dworsky reported the following examples that were sent to him by people across the country:

  • Pepperidge Farm GoldFish: The 30-ounce carton was reduced by almost 10% and is now only 27.3 ounces
  • Peanut M&Ms: The “sharing size” package declined from 10.70 ounces to 10.05 ounces.
  • Tide Oxi laundry detergent: Large jugs went from 154 ounces to 146 ounces. 
  • Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper: The company cut 30 sheets from each mega roll.
  • Campbell’s Homestyle soup: Cans that were 18.6 ounces are now 16.1 ounces.  
  • Huggies baby wipes: The old version had 768 wipes but the new package has 704 wipes. 


According to Dworsky, shrinkflation is pervasive and can impact any type of product. “It seems like they are always tinkering with the sizes of those things,” he says.

Look beyond grocery and drugstores, too, advises Ramhold. Many restaurants are selling smaller portion sizes because the cost of doing business is up.

The December 2023 Restaurant365 State Of The Industry survey revealed that more than 80% of the operators reported that their food expenses had increased and 89% said labor costs had increased.

So, if that burger looks a little skimpier now but the menu price hasn’t budged, shrinkflation took a bite out of your meal before you did.

How to Beat Shrinkflation

You may not be able to do much about your favorite eatery downsizing its portions, but you can become a more savvy shopper for consumer goods. Here are some ways to spot and lessen the effect of shrinkflation:

  • Compare the unit price. Sometimes a manufacturer will engage in shrinkflation for one version of a product, but you can get a better price by buying the family-size version or a smaller box. Review the prices on the store’s website before you go or spend extra time at the store comparing and contrasting. 
  • Consider store brand items. If you’ve been loyal to a brand but the prices aren’t working for you anymore, widen your scope. Supermarket or drugstore brands can be more economical and may not be subject to shrinkflation.
  • Enroll in a membership-based store. Consider joining a wholesaler like Costco. Annual fees start at $60, but you can score some of the lowest prices available on popular items when you purchase them in large quantities.
  • Limit unhealthy premade snacks. Because some of the most extreme examples of shrinkflation are found in products like candy and chips, this may be a good reason to keep those purchases to a minimum.
  • Focus on healthy bargain foods. The December 2023 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index report found that common staples such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy have actually decreased in price, and fruits and vegetables only marginally increased.  


Finally, when you do spot evidence of shrinkflation but are dedicated to a specific brand or product, you may want to notify the company about your displeasure.

Either email them at their corporate headquarters or reach out to their social media team on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and X (Twitter).

While it may not result in a reversal to the original portion quality, if enough consumers complain, the company may think twice about further size reductions on other products.