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Biden ‘Confronts’ US Snack Makers Over ‘Shrinkflation’

US President Joe Biden has issued a video condemning US snack makers for indulging in ‘shrinkflation’ – which he calls an out-and-out ‘ripoff’. But he hasn’t found the support he sought – either from the snack makers or from opposition politicians…

In the video, not standing behind an official podium, sans necktie, Biden said, “Some companies are trying to pull a fast one by shrinking the products little by little and hoping you won’t notice. […] Give me a break. The American public is tired of being played for suckers. I’m calling on companies to put a stop to this. Let’s make sure businesses do the right thing now.”

More bemused than angry?

In an ‘X’ (formerly twitter) post, Biden did preface his scold with a reference to Super Bowl LVIII. “While you were Super Bowl shopping, did you notice smaller-than-usual products where the price stays the same? Folks are calling it Shrinkflation and it means companies are giving you less for every dollar you spend. I’m calling on the big consumer brands to put a stop to it.”

But he smiled throughout the video, as if (some online critics said) he wasn’t entirely sincere. Or simply didn’t take the situation that seriously.

The industry responds

“We appreciate that the President has to deflect attention away from inflation that has lingered during his administration,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, in a statement. Chavern added that the group would welcome the opportunity to work with Biden on, “real solutions that benefit consumers.”

Oooo! That’s a low blow. I thought only other politicians were supposed to use language like that. Was Chavern intentionally trying to politicise the Snack Sector?

It’s interesting to note that the companies behind the snack products featured in the POTUS video declined comment to the media.

And not a public peep – yet – from any politicians.

A call for action

Senator Bob Casey, “Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families, Health Education Labour and Pensions Committee, issued a detailed report titled: ‘Shrinkflation: How Corporations Are Shrinking Products To Maximize Profits’.

His scathing rundown on the escalating ‘greedflation’ problem made a lot of manufacturers look very bad. He started off spotlighting some shocking numbers.

“While overall inflation rose by 14 percent from July 2020 to July 2022, corporate profits grew by 74 percent over that same period – five times as fast as inflation. In fact, Federal Reserve research shows that 41 percent of inflation over this time was due solely to larger corporate profit-making.”

His central thesis – shared by many consumers and advocacy groups – was that the record food industry profits were not a result of higher prices. Instead, monumental profits were generated by manufacturers reducing the amount of product in packages and selling them at the established price. Or, as with bake shop goods, when they give you only 4 items in the same-sized package, and at the same price as you used to get 6. That’s known as ‘shrinkflation. When taken to extremes, it’s reviled as ‘greedflation’.

Stern demands

Casey makes some stern demands of industry in the conclusion of his report.

“Senator Casey is demanding answers about pricing strategies and package size practices from the trade associations representing household consumer projects, and food and beverage corporations. […] American families deserve to know how and when they are getting less for their money, and corporations should not be able to hide price hikes with shrinkflation.”

No action as yet

There’s been no action from the government as yet. And little public notice has been taken of Casey’s demands by the industry.

But, if President Biden’s rant about shrinkflation is any indication, he’ll support harsh measures to compel transparency about food prices and shrinkflation when bills eventually reach his desk.

Alas… The wheels of government move excruciatingly slowly.


Casey’s report makes riveting – and at times shocking – reading!

~ Maggie J.