Monday, September 1, 2014

Finding Ways to Make up for ‘Shrinkflation’

As an MSN Money article notes, “Whether it's ice cream, chocolate, cheese or yogurt, CNBC highlights some of the consumer goods that have slimmed down in recent years globally, but have stayed near the same price point.”

It goes on to say that, “Rob Dickerson, senior global packaged food analyst at Consumer Edge Research told CNBC via telephone that he's seen a growing trend in the last three years of these cutbacks in food.

Dickerson notes, “Poor harvests in the U.S., rising supplier costs, growing demand from China and the general fallout from the economic crisis are just some of the reasons Dickerson gives for the squeeze. Each individual nation also has varying factors, he added.”

Our family has explored several options in an effort to make up for the effects of this ‘shrinkflation’.

A meal doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive to be satisfying and filling.  We often find ourselves taking smaller portions of a main course – chicken, beef, or pork – and extending them with fillers.  From veggies that might be on sale that week at the grocery store to things like rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, breads, and more, we extend our higher-cost meal items with affordable, yet often still nutritious and delicious menu fillers that we can season to our taste or to fit the particular meal.

We often find that the sizes in which a company or store portions particular items are still greater than we need or want.  In such instances, we tend to break up these larger-sized portions into smaller portions.  This not only helps us trim our waistlines, but it keeps us from wasting by cooking more than we need.  We often do this with things like ground beef and other meats, certain pre-packaged fruits and veggies, pastas, and some dairy products.

Freezing extras
To help us ensure that we don’t waste items that we buy in bulk or that are packaged in greater quantities than we immediately need, we often freeze some of our extras.  This is particularly helpful when it comes to things that don’t last as long such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and some dairy products like butter and certain cheeses.

While product sizes might be getting smaller, it doesn’t mean that we can’t load up when certain items are on sale.  We like to stockpile certain longer-lasting items or items that we can freeze when the price is right.  This allows us to save a bit of cash over the long run and helps battle shrinkflation.  In order to keep our stockpiled items current and from spoiling, we do our best to rotate our stock, ensuring that we use the oldest products first and keep waste to a minimum. 

Substituting and un-branding
But sometimes, when it comes to certain products we’re used to consuming, it’s hard to fight the packaging and pricing changes made by stores or companies.  Therefore, it might be necessary to consider moving to a different brand or non-name brand, or even substituting another product altogether.  Most recently we’ve done this with beef and bacon.  For steaks and sliced beef, we’ve instead substituted pork and chicken.  For bacon, we’ve instead gone with sausages for breakfast.  While it may not be the perfect fix, it certainly helps us keep our food costs lower as costs per pound increase or particular product portion sizes continue to shrink. 


The author is not a licensed financial, culinary or health professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

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