canada inflation

Have you noticed that package sizes seem to be shrinking – that the grocery item in your cart is smaller but the price is the same or even more?

This is called shrinkflation and it isn’t new. It’s the inflation that you’re not supposed to see. Manufacturers are quietly shrinking package sizes without lowering the prices. It happens more often in times of high inflation and is impacting almost every packaged product. 

It seems that shrinkflation is happening in a grocery store near you and is here to stay. But is there something we can do about it?

Licensed Insolvency Trustee, Francyne Myers, discusses shrinkflation and how it is impacting our budgets. She also covers:

  • The difference between shrinkflation and inflation
  • The most common products affected
  • Navigating ways to make price comparisons 
  • Checking the price of your goods as they are scanned
  • Consumer education sites 

If you are struggling with debt or just need help managing your finances, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) should be your first call. They will talk you through all the debt relief options available to you. LIT’s are licensed and regulated by the Canadian government and adhere to strict ethical guidelines. 

Wayne Kay 00:03
Welcome to the Debt Matters podcast, where we help Canadians find solutions to their debt with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across Canada. 

I’m Wayne Kay, and in today’s show, we’re going to be discussing shrinkflation. You’re familiar with the term inflation, right? But shrinkflation is something we also need to be aware of. 

To help me with it, we’re going to talk with Francyne Myers from Allan Marshall & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee from Nova Scotia. She’s in Halifax and Truro offices. Francyne, thanks for being here.

Francyne Myers 00:37
Hey, Wayne, how are you doing?

Wayne Kay 00:39
I’m doing great. How are you doing?

Francyne Myers 00:41
Wonderful, thank you.

Wayne Kay 00:42
I am glad that we’re going to be discussing shrinkflation, because this is actually something that my wife has been bringing up forever. Well, I’m going to let you explain what shrinkflation is.

Francyne Myers 00:54
You know what? It’s such a strange word, and it makes you think that things are actually starting to go down. You think shrink, you think things are getting smaller.

But unfortunately, I should say that is the case, but it’s not a good thing. What’s actually going down is the weight or size or number of consumer goods. Often at the same time when the price is going up.

I guess if you look at it, shrink and inflation together are shrinkflation. The most common consumer goods that are falling victim to this shrinkflation are really your consumable goods. Like groceries.

Specifically, we’ve seen it in potato chips, we see it in chocolate bars and even things like ketchup. And it happens more, these types of practices in times of, you guessed it, inflation. We’re going to be seeing more and more of it. That’s what my opinion is.

Wayne Kay 01:54
Right. And I bring this up because constantly when we’re shopping my wife will say, oh, yeah, those used to be way bigger. Even the chocolate bars. The chocolate bars used to be bigger. 

Or they’re just cut, instead of it being a 330 grams bag, it’s now 300, but the price is the same. Well, that’s a good increase in profit for these companies.

Francyne Myers 02:17
Yes, that’s exactly what’s happening. Same thing. It’s not just your imagination. I know when I was a lot younger, bags of chips were bigger. It’s not just something that we’re thinking happened. It actually did happen. Now, the companies, this is how they use a bit of reverse psychology or what have you.

So in order to maintain profits, because a lot of prices are going up, companies are not only raising prices on their goods, they’re just reducing how much you’re buying of the product. So we don’t see the prices go up as much, so we don’t really realize how much of a hit it is. 

It’s even things like a box of cookies can have a couple of cookies less in it. The grams go down a bit, which over the course of a couple of bags of cookies doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you spread it over a large scale, that is a lot of savings for a company. 

I know when I was a kid, man, if I polished off a big bag of potato chips, that was a lot of potato chips, right. These days I find I could probably plow through a large bag of potato chips and not bat an eye.

And really, it may seem this is where people –  this is where it’s a little really sneaky. It may seem a brand is more competitive over another brand, so they may actually be able to maintain a price point. Let’s say $2.50 for a bag of chips, whereas their competitors go up to $3.00. But there’s less in it. So you look at that and say, oh, well, that’s only $2.50. Oh, that’s $3.00. I’m going to get the $2.50 bag. But there’s less product. 

So it’s a way for them to maintain not only their profits, but also seem more competitive. So some consumers may not actually pick up on this because the way packaging is done.

I can look at a package and think there’s more in one package, just the way it almost seems like an optical illusion. So you have to be so careful.

Wayne Kay 04:24
Now, what do you think the companies are actually saying about this?

Francyne Myers 04:28
Well, you know what, that’s a really good question because the media – there have been media outlets and there’s a lot of social media groups and consumer advocates who are asking companies, why are you doing this? Or just to kind of own up on it.

So here’s the responses. Either you don’t get one or they just kind of ignore your W5 type of calls. Or they’re just very frank about the fact that really what we all know, it’s easier to reduce the product than try to raise the prices all the time.

Just speaking even for myself, I’ll notice a small price increase much more quickly than a small reduction in the packaging. And that’s exactly what companies are counting on, right?

Wayne Kay 05:12
Yes, exactly. Same way I’ll notice if the price goes up because a lot of items we repetitively buy and we buy them every single week, we know what the price is.

So that’s a good one. You know, another sneaky thing that I’ve noticed is you can buy the small versions at a certain price, and then you can buy the bigger version, more bulkish, and you would assume that the bigger version is a better deal, but oftentimes it’s not anymore. 

You really have to look at the amount of grams in something. And I’ll use the example of toothpaste. So I remember seeing a package of three, and it was on for $5.97. So $2.00 each, right. Well, you could buy them for $1.75 singles. I thought how many people are not doing this? How many people aren’t paying attention?

Francyne Myers 06:08
And it’s funny you should bring that up, because I noticed that I got two words for you, baking soda. I noticed the same thing with a name brand baking soda. And I had always bought the larger, thinking that it would be less money. But I realized when I looked at the price that buying four of the smaller ones was actually cheaper than buying one large one, which is totally, totally contrary to what I would have thought ten years ago.

Wayne Kay 06:38
Absolutely. In fact, this just happened yesterday. We had three bags of small sugar at the office, and I was saying, Why do we have so much sugar? And the person said, Well, I was going to buy the big ten kilogram one, but it was cheaper to buy these ones because they were on sale, the small singles.

Francyne Myers 06:58
Yes, and that’s the thing, too. You’re absolutely right.

I’ve noticed that sometimes the smaller ones will go on sale, so it’s comparable. And then other times, like your toothpaste and my baking soda examples, the smaller ones are cheaper gram for gram than the larger ones. So it really comes down to paying attention when you’re at the grocery store.

Wayne Kay 07:19
I actually brought this up on my radio show, and people were saying that they actually shop with calculators now to figure that stuff out.

Isn’t that something you have to do? That’s right, you really do. Because the cost of everything went just beyond. If somebody had told us how high everything would have been two years ago, we would have laughed at them. No way. And now we’re going, oh, please slow down.

Francyne Myers 07:47
Yes, I know.

Wayne Kay 07:49
Now, how do we fight this? Is there anything we can do?

Francyne Myers 07:52
Well, it’s very sneaky, right? That’s the problem, right? And not only would there be sometimes well, I’ll tell you, here’s a couple of signs.

Sometimes a company will change the packaging to try and camouflage that there’s less grams in it. If you would see, at times a different packaging, right? 

So usually here’s what grocery stores will do. They will try and clear out one package before they put out the other package on the shelf. Because if they have them side by side, when you’re like, hey, wow, this is like 50 grams less. So you’re going to see it, right? 

But if they just clear out one, then the other, you’d be less likely, as a consumer, to see it. So watch that if you see new packaging. Why would a company change the packaging except, in my mind, they’re trying to disguise something.

Keep an eye on that – new packaging. Now, also, the thing is, the name brands will usually be more likely – because there’s higher profits conceivably, they will change their packaging. The no name brands or your more generic brands will not as often change their packaging. Either way, that’s still kind of gram for gram, they’re usually the better deal. 

Although I must say, the other day when I was at the grocery store, there was a sale on Starbucks coffee, making it cheaper than the no name brand, which, again, I guess you have to watch your prices, right? 

So, yes, change in packaging is one really, I find the thing to keep an eye on and then just kind of noticing, I think. But apart from that, looking at some grocery stores they do tell you how much the price of something is. Kind of like going with a calculator, except they do it for you. So you have to check the grams. 

And here’s another thing I’ve noticed, Wayne. Sometimes the same type of items are not close together. They can be in different areas so that you can’t really compare prices. You have to slip over a few aisles to find a comparable price and check. So when they’re starting to split items, change packaging, then you know there’s kind of a change sometimes.

Wayne Kay 10:16
Yes, that’s another key point. We have got to pay attention. You have to know it’s not that you can just go in and grab the same old stuff anymore. It’s become a game in a way.

And also when you go shopping, you want to find stuff that’s on sale and you can do it. But for us, I think we really pay attention now to every price, every dollar.

Francyne Myers 10:41
Well, I tell you, there’s some things that you may buy every few months. Every six months, even sometimes once a year. 

There was one item that we didn’t use all that much we bought, It’s a condiment, maybe every six months. And just in the last six months, I’m sure the price went up $3. I was stunned when I went. I actually had to pause and decide whether I was going to spend this much money on this condiment. And, I mean, I did eventually, because there really wasn’t a lot of choice and we use it. 

But I got to tell you, I really did have to stop and think as to whether I was going to spend like $10.00 for something that would have been $6.00 probably a few months ago.

Wayne Kay 11:20
Another thing we need to pay attention to. This all has to do with the bank accounts of Canadians and helping them out, to find how to get through without having to put things on their card. But you could save a lot of money also by paying attention to the price when you run it through the scanner. 

I have noticed countless times, almost every time I go, that the price may be on sale, and then when you scan it, it’s a different price. It’s the original price. And this is happening a lot.

Francyne Myers 11:56
Yes, it’s probably a good thing that my husband is not on with me because you probably hear his eyes rolling through the radio. 

So this is what we do. I have an uncanny gift of memorizing just for the grocery trip prices. I don’t know. It is some kind of gift. All right, I will look at a price, and I’ll memorize it. I walk out of the grocery store –  I don’t know why I memorize prices. It’s really odd. 

So I am parked in front of the scanner to watch as the grocery clerk scans things, because I will spot a wrong price a mile away. And I can guarantee you that, yes, grocery stores make mistakes. They will actually, a lot of times, scan out as not a sale price or higher. 

And people should also know, I know we’re on shrinkflation, but this is a really good tip as well in the grocery store that there is a policy and you probably know this, Wayne, that if it scans wrong, you can get it free or get a couple of dollars off.

Wayne Kay 13:08
Yes, I think that’s up to $10.

Francyne Myers 13:11
For an item, something like that. I know with mine, I catch it, it scans higher, and right away I’m like, this scanned too high. Do I get it free?

And that’s all you have to do is you just have to keep an eye on what the prices are. Now, for some people, that sounds really tedious. For me, it’s just, I guess the thrill of the hunt, right?

Wayne Kay 13:32
Yes. It’s called a scanning code of practices is what it’s actually labeled as. And you were absolutely right, I never knew.

Francyne Myers 13:39
It was a thing. I never knew it was a thing.

Wayne Kay 13:41
I didn’t know either until my daughter works somewhere, and she’s the one who told me about it and said, hey, guys, this is a real thing. It’s actually a code.

So, yes, not all the stores will do it, though. Like, some of the small independents won’t do it, but they will correct the price. Also, you do have to go through your receipts after your adventures as well.

Francyne Myers 14:03
Yes. And I think that’s certainly right,  try to catch it, and like you say, at the very least, you’re going to get the lower price. So it’s worth it for sure.

Wayne Kay 14:15
Yes. What other little things can we talk about regarding this shrinkflation?

Francyne Myers 14:21
Well, first of all, I think the awareness that companies are actually applying these kinds of tactics. And I don’t think it would hurt – I find it a little offensive. I feel like they’re really kind of sneaking this in on me. 

I would let the company know that I have noticed it. And now maybe you’re buying a competitor’s brand because they haven’t either employed the tactic or they’re now more competitive. There’s a lot of websites out there, and you know what?

We can’t keep an eye on all this, you and I, Wayne. It’s just too much for two people, right? Although we are pretty much on the ball, there are a lot of savvy consumers out there who have wonderful websites who are really keen about this.

They keep an eye on shrinkflation and they educate other consumers. Now, some of them are American, of course, but there seems to be more in the States with this. But there are some Canadian ones.

They will actually tell you which companies are the real culprits in trying to shrink and get these higher prices. I’m using air quotes here past us, because they really are higher prices. I mean, if you’re paying more for less, obviously it’s a higher price. 

I always keep in mind that yes, it’s a sneaky way to do it. But companies have to stay competitive. Their raw materials are going up, their wages are going up, the cost of gasoline and diesel is going up. So in a way, I kind of cut the companies a bit of slack. 

But if I do notice it, I’m okay with looking and being competitive and going to another one. It’s just that you have to keep an eye for it. What I find a little bit hard about this one is that you don’t notice the number going down. You do notice the price change. 

So somebody else who may just raise their prices where you’re like, oh, no, they raised their prices. I’m not buying this anymore. Whereas the other ones, if the prices stay the same, then they lose a competitive edge. Right. So it’s not a bad practice to take a look and see which companies are actually more guilty of this than others, right?

Wayne Kay 16:41
Yes. Well, I’m glad you brought attention to it because it is something that people have noticed. But if you don’t notice it, you are spending more money on certain things than you may need to. Or you can look at the competitors or the different options that you’ve mentioned.

Francyne, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the show. We have some good laughs, that’s for sure.

Francyne Myers 17:00
All right. Thanks, Wayne.

Wayne Kay 17:02
It’s always a pleasure. Francyne Myers with me, you can get a free consultation with Allan Marshall & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee, by going to 

And that’s it for the Debt Matters podcast. Make sure you subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcast from. And of course, for more information, you can always check out Thanks for listening.

About Francyne Myers

In 2012, Francyne left her 23 year public service career and joined Allan Marshall & Associates where she completed her education and became a Licensed Insolvency Trustee in 2013. Alongside with her work she is actively involved in her local Trustee Association. In her spare time Francyne can be found fishing and spending time with her family.

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