Watch CBS News

Higher costs, smaller quantities: Denver professor weighs in on "shrinkflation" trends

Higher costs, smaller quantities: Colorado professor weighs in on "shrinkflation" trends
Higher costs, smaller quantities: Colorado professor weighs in on "shrinkflation" trends 01:53

You've probably noticed recently the amount or quantity in a package of food or house supplies is decreasing, while the price is increasing. This is known as "shrinkflation." Now, a popular Sesame Street character known for loving cookies is also expressing his concerns about shrinkflation.

Cookie Monster took to social media last week and shared a post on X saying, "Me hate shrinkflation! Me cookies are getting smaller... Guess me going to have to eat double da cookies!"

Cookie Monster might just be on to something.

A Pennsylvania senator recently issued a report that stated packages of double stuff Oreos decreased by 6% since 2019. A family sized box of wheat thins also decreased 12% in weight, according to government data. The report also shared that shrinking sizes are seen in other products like cleaning supplies, coffee and candy, and frozen foods.

Dr. Kishore Kulkarni, an economics professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said shrinkflation is nothing new.

"Companies change their trademark, they change their logos, they change their stamps, and they change their products all the time. And it's not really a new phenomenon," said Kulkarni.

Daily Life In Canada
Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

 He said companies recognize right now there's a shortage in the labor market and there are higher labor costs and transportation costs. Plus, the supply chain has been impacted.

"All these are creating much higher cost for the companies. Now, in order to cover this increased costs, one way to do that is to reduce the size of our product," said Kulkarni.

Kulkarni said because of the pandemic, or to help tackle problems stemming from the pandemic, 27 companies have reduced the sizes of their products. He shared examples of Coca Cola products and Gatorade sizes being reduced, too. He added that consumers are beginning to notice shrinkflation and should pay closer attention when they're at the stores.

"We have to actually look at the ounces that are filled in the can and we have to look at how many sheets there are in the paper towels. We have to be careful as consumers, that you are paying the same price for the same product or not," said Kulkarni.

Kulkarni believes consumers will probably just get used to the smaller sizes of products. When more and more customers begin to realize what's happening, the demand decreases and companies won't profit as much.

There's some good news, though, as inflation begins to cool. Kulkarni also believes shrinkflation will begin to stabilize as well.

"Ten years from now, we won't even remember what was in a packet of cookies or any other product for that matter," said Kulkarni. "So I think these are the trends which just come and go."

Kulkarni said overall, specific items remain expensive, like eggs, meat, vegetables and fruits.

The report also shared that household paper products experienced the most shrinkflation. Toilet paper and paper towels are nearly 35% more expensive now compared to 2019. Some toilet paper brands like Charmin Ultra Soft now have approximately 20 fewer sheets than before. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.