The Latest Shrinkflation Victim That Has Customers Seeing Red

It's been a frustrating year, to say the least, with inflation driving up the cost of fuel and basic food commodities. The Consumer Price Index, which tracks grocery store prices, revealed that costs have risen 12.2% higher over this same period last year, the largest 12-month price increase since 1979, according to Fortune.

But skyrocketing inflation isn't the only thing plaguing shoppers at supermarkets. Shrinkflation, a term describing when manufacturers sell smaller amounts of their products at the same cost as before, has become a hot-button issue as well. Insider characterized it as a "sneaky way for brands to hide growing prices."

With shrinkflation, a shopper typically isn't made aware that an item they have always been buying is now a slightly reduced size or ounce weight. It's another method companies use to combat rising labor costs and the higher price of ingredients.

Two recent examples shared by Insider are Walmart Great Value paper towels decreasing from 168 to 120 sheets per roll but still maintaining the same price and Frito-Lay shrinking regular bags of Doritos from 9.75 to 9.25 ounces while the price remained unchanged. Now shrinkflation is spilling over into the restaurant industry, and customers are beginning to take notice.

Smaller restaurant portions, same menu price

Shrinkflation is impacting the restaurant industry, with some establishments shrinking the portion sizes on certain menu items and not adjusting the price downwards accordingly (per NBC News). The review site Yelp just issued its quarterly economic report indicating for the first time that people are citing instances of shrinkflation in their online reviews.

Consumers have detected the trend most often with certain types of food and/or restaurants, with hot dogs, burgers, and pizza topping the list. Restaurants serving seafood, Italian, and Chinese food also were frequently called out for shrinkflation among reviewers. According to the reviews, the shrinkflation has been more prevalent in places that offer affordable fare.

Bloomberg chronicled the phenomenon in May, noting that portion sizes at certain restaurants were getting smaller while prices either stayed the same or increased. Reddit even has a r/shrinkflation subreddit devoted to the topic through which users share visual evidence of their personal shrinkflation experiences. One commenter U/Hearthseeker posted a picture of his disappointingly miniscule Zaxby's chicken finger held up next to a single French fry to drive home the point that the fast food chain's chicken fingers "are now smaller than their fries."

As inflation continues to hit record highs (per Forbes), shrinkflation just might be settling in at restaurants for the foreseeable future as well.