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Outcry as companies raise prices, reduce product sizes, content

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by Jane Osamor

pThis week, French supermarket Carrefour warned shoppers of “shrinkflation”, a development where packet contents are getting smaller.

Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever

Public outcry has continued to greet increases in the prices of products and reductions in content in French supermarket Carrefour. 

This came after shoppers woke up to the shocking discovery of the rise in prices of popular products mostly consumed by households. 

This week, French supermarket Carrefour warned shoppers of “shrinkflation”, a development where packet contents are getting smaller. 

Chief among the popular demand are Lipton Ice Tea, Lindt chocolate and Viennetta ice cream, with rising prices. 

Carrefour, France’s second-largest grocery store, has identified 26 products made by food giants, including Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever, that have shrunk without a price reduction to match.

Stefen Bompais, the director of client communications at Carrefour, has also kicked against the rise in prices of the product as content shrunk. 

For instance, Mr Bompais said Guigoz infant milk formula produced by Nestle had gone from a pack size of 900g to 830g.

He added that the bottle of sugar-free peach-flavoured Lipton Ice Tea, produced by PepsiCo, shrank to 1.25 litres from 1.5 litres. 

He said Viennetta, made by Unilever, has shrunk from 350g to 320g.

“Obviously, the aim in stigmatising these products is to be able to tell manufacturers to rethink their pricing policy,” he said on Thursday. 

Carrefour revealed that it wanted to pressure the firms making the products to cut prices. 

Retailers and food manufacturers have come under pressure to reduce prices, just as in the UK, as shoppers struggle with sharply rising prices.

However, major producers – Unilever, Pepsico and Nestle have not commented on Carrefour’s move.

But Carrefour had highlighted the products in question with signs on the shelves. 

“This product has seen its volume/weight fall and the effective price charged by the supplier rise,” it pasted on the products with high prices. 

In June, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire summoned 75 retailers and consumer groups to a meeting about prices, accusing manufacturers of not toeing the line on inflation.

British consumer groups have also warned of “shrinkflation” affecting the value of common items from cat food to chocolate biscuits.

Although, it is unlikely that UK supermarkets would follow in Carrefour’s footsteps.

Retail expert Ged Futter states that the strategy risks “poisoning” relationships between retailers and food firms.

“This is a very blunt way of trying to compete. To do that with your manufacturers, won’t help. Supermarkets use the same ‘shrinkflation’ tactic with their own-label products,” Mr Futter added.

A spokesperson for Lindt & Sprüngli, another brand identified by Carrefour for shrinking its products, said its prices had gone up on average by about 9.3 per cent in line with rising raw material costs.

“But information about product size was always made clear,” the spokesperson said.

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