Two Cadbury's chocolate Fingers have been cut from packets - shrinking the total to 22 - in a move that's sure to hit children's parties and elevenses hard. At the same time, the price in some supermarkets has risen.
The packets of biscuits - made under licence by Burton's Biscuit Company - have been shrunk from 125g to 114g. To add insult to injury, the price has been rising in some stores, and according to the Daily Mail, has shot up from £1 to £1.50 in Sainsbury's over the past year.
A Burton's Biscuit Company spokesperson said that the changes were made in response to consumer demand, and that the suggested retail price had been cut at the same time from £1.99 to £1.79, "making the smaller pack better value per gram."
It added: "Whilst we can't comment on retailer pricing, our data shows that the price has significantly fallen since the introduction of the new sizes. In addition MySupermarket reports that the current pricing for our standard Cadbury Fingers is 22% below the average of the last 10 months and has been at this low level for the last three months."
It's not the only Cadbury's branded product to have shrunk recently. The company recently reduced the number of Creme Eggs in a multipack from six to five, cut 20g off the Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar, and removed 125g from tins of Roses.
The rising price of cocoa has to bear some of the blame. Cocoa production has been disappointing due to disease and drought in some of the major cocoa-producing countries. At the same time, demand has been growing, as the Chinese market for chocolate has boomed, so manufacturers are having to pay more for their ingredients.
Yet chocolate is far from the only victim of what economist Pippa Malmgren has called shrinkflation. Last month Which? discovered 13 products that had shrunk between 2013 and 2014. They included Philadelphia cheese down 10% to 180g, Surf down 8% to 1.61kg (losing two washes), Aunt Bessie's Homestyle Chips down 7% to 700g, and Hovis Best of Both down 6% to 750g. PG Tips has also cut the weight of its teabags. It has chosen to keep the same number of bags in each box - just put less tea in each bag.
Malmgreen argues that this isn't just a sneaky way to cut costs, but that it's also a worrying sign for the economy. She points out that in the 1970s, before massive price inflation, we saw a similar bout of shrinkflation.
This may be an odd concern in a time of low inflation, when the talk is of falling prices rather than the risk of rising ones. However, one of the biggest reasons why prices have been falling is the fact that oil prices are down. This situation has been artificially engineered by OPEC, and if OPEC changes its strategy, oil prices could easily jump once again.
If this happens, the Bank of England warns that inflation could become a risk. In fact, it has estimated that within two years, there's a 50% chance that inflation will be above its target of 2%. If inflation soars, this current round of shrinkflation could be just the beginning.
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