Your Cereal Boxes Could Be Getting Smaller. Here's Why

If you find that your family is going through groceries from cereal to orange juice that much more quickly, it's not just because everyone is going through a growth spurt. It all comes down to a move called "shrinkflation," and it's happening up and down the grocery aisles from food and beverages to dry goods. Shrinkflation is what happens when grocery manufacturers resort to cutting back on the size of certain items, in order to keep prices of their grocery items stable. 

Thanks to shrinkflation, you'll see popular cereal brands from Cheerios to Chex and Lucky Charms diminish slightly, from 19 ounces to 18. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are now smaller, what was once 1.6 ounces is now 1.5 ounces. Orange juice jugs are 5 ounces lighter than they used to be. Even paper towels aren't immune to shrinkflation, Costco paper towels are now 20 sheets less per roll (via Fox Business). What is the difference between that and raising prices? Edgar Dworsky of Consumer World tells Today that there is none, and he calls out shrinkflation for what it is — a backdoor price increase.

Shrinkflation has been going on for some time

Grocery manufacturers are having to resort to shrinkflation because manufacturers themselves are having problems keeping their costs down, and are having to pass that on to their consumers as a result. "Manufacturers tell me when they face increased costs of raw materials or the price of gasoline goes up making it more expensive to ship their goods to the store, they are under pressure to either raise prices or downsize their products," Dworsky says (via Today). "And sometimes they may do both." 

While shrinkflation might sound inevitable, there are still ways for smart shoppers to protect themselves from its impact. Dworsky tells Today that shoppers will need to pay close attention to what they buy first by remembering the sizes and weights of the items they get, and then checking that number when they are doing their next grocery run. Shoppers might also want to check unit pricing of the items they intend to get, so they can comparison shop. Unless you purchase a branded item for a reason, you might also want to step away from your favorite brand and consider purchasing a store's private label, especially since these can be the last to alter the volume of their items.