Shrinkflation in house brands

Published: 21 March 2024

Large retailers are reducing their formats to cut production costs in a period of high food inflation.

Shrinkflation is not sparing the private labels that consumers love to save money on, Radio-Canada reports. Already in the spotlight for their record profits, Canada's major food retailers are in turn reducing the formats of their new products.

Since January, reporters have spotted a dozen products identified with the new label on the President's Choice website, the private label owned by Loblaw and sold at Provigo and Maxi, among others.

These new additions to the virtual shelves stood side by side with seemingly identical products, except for one important change: their weight had been reduced.

The entire instant oatmeal range lost two pouches per box. The hot chocolate mix was 50 grams lighter, and packages of frozen fruit, cookies and soft bars, in particular, were slimmed down. According to Radio-Canada's observations, these new products were sold in grocery stores at the same price, or even more expensive.

According to experts, even if consumers are offended by shrinkflation, it's price that counts first and foremost in their eyes.

They'll choose the cheapest format before the biggest, especially if its price had to go up to keep its original size, agronomist and economist Pascal Thériault, McGill Farm Management and Technology Program Director, suggested to Radio-Canada, saying, "Consumers are noble of heart, but cheap of wallet."

Ironically, the private labels of major retailers are manufactured by the same companies that produce the national brands they compete with.

"It's better for them to do it, rather than let someone else do it," recalls Pascal Thériault, adding that there aren't that many processors here.

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