Shrinkflation: 2 Factors Making Candy Bars Smaller

Shrinkflation is coming to a food shelf near you. Most notably, candy bars are shrinking in size and calories to plump up up profits and trim down the contribution of excessive portion sizes to obesity. This is an age-old tactic for consumer packaged goods that has special relevance today.

Shrinkflation Video

This tactic is on the stage because two factors are coming together to make it very attractive to big food companies.

  1. Food Policy Pressure. Last year, Mars and Hershey signed onto the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, joining the pledge to cut 1.5 trillion calories from the U.S. food supply. This effort flowed from the Partnership for a Healthier America started by First Lady Michelle Obama. Cutting portion sizes is one of the key strategies. It seems to be working. The Foundation announced last year and public health researchers verified that the Foundation has already exceeded its goals.
  2. Economic Pressure. In the wake of the Great Recession food manufacturers are facing cost and profit pressures at the same time that consumers are resistant to price increases. Solution: cut portion sizes, but not prices. Costs go down and profits go up.

Candy bars are not the only sort of food where shrinkflation is showing up. String cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and cake mix are other examples.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone. But no good deed goes unpunished. Folks who distrust Big Food will no doubt criticize this move, irrespective of any helpful effect on the food supply.

Click here and here for more on the move to smaller candy bars. Click here for more on the move to smaller packages in the food industry

Baby Ruth 1952, image © Classic Film / flickr

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2 Responses to “Shrinkflation: 2 Factors Making Candy Bars Smaller”

  1. April 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm, Emily Dhurandhar said:

    Interesting. Don’t think reducing portion size will hurt, but the science doesn’t support that reducing portion sizes results in weight loss, only that it may prevent weight gain. See

    • April 10, 2014 at 7:51 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks, Emily. Good point and a great reference.