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President Biden Is Calling Out Snack Companies for 'Shrinkflation'

“I’ve had enough of what they call shrinkflation," Biden said. "It's a rip-off.”

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

President Joe Biden has a message for snack companies: Knock it off with shrinkflation.

On Sunday, just ahead of the Super Bowl, Biden posted on X (formally known as Twitter), sharing a video aimed at snack companies, saying that they are shrinking the size of their products without also reducing costs to consumers. It’s a practice the president bluntly called a “rip-off.”

“When buying snacks for the big game, you might have noticed one thing,” Biden said. “Sports drink bottles are smaller, a bag of chips has fewer chips, but they’re still charging just as much. And as an ice cream lover, what makes me the most angry is that ice cream cartons have actually shrunk in size but not in price.” He succinctly added, “I’ve had enough of what they call shrinkflation. It's a rip-off.”

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While Biden didn’t specifically call out any companies by name, brands that were shown on the snack table beside him took note.

"We appreciate that the President has to deflect attention away from inflation that has lingered during his administration," David Chavern, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, shared in a statement with Reuters. According to Chavern, his organization is eager to work with the president and his administration on "real solutions that benefit consumers."

However, a December 2023 report published by Pennsylvania’s Sen. Bob Casey, shows the issue to be much deeper than mere deflection. According to the report, General Mills decreased the size of its “Family Size” offering across multiple products without reducing cost, including reducing the size of its Family Size Cocoa Puffs from 19.3 ounces to 18.1 ounces. It then doubled down by increasing the cost for the lighter product in 2023. The report also called out Frito-Lay, which reduced the size of a bag of Doritos from 9.75 ounces to 9.25 ounces. Though the company noted the change was due to the pandemic, it still posted a 9% increased operating profit between 2021 and 2022.

Other household goods appear to be suffering through shrinkflation, including Charmin Ultra Soft Mega rolls of toilet paper, which decreased from 264 double-ply sheets a roll to 244 sheets, while the company’s other offering, Ultra Soft Super Mega rolls, has decreased from 396 sheets to 366. It’s not alone in the toilet paper shrinkage either, with the report noting Cottonelle’s one-ply mega rolls went from 340 to 312 sheets while its two-ply sheets went from 284 to 268.

“There is no denying that shrinkflation is real and that it is having a measurable impact on family budgets,” the report noted, adding, “but there is still much to learn about the tactic and its full effect on American consumers.”

This may not be the last time the President makes an effort to call out brands for practices like this. In early February, Jared Bernstein, the chair of President Biden's Council of Economic Advisers, shared with Reuters, "Our message is a very clear one that the president has and will continue to lean into, which is, if you're a company whose input prices have come down and you're not passing those savings along to the consumer, he will call you out.” 

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