Shrinkflation: Experts warn of hidden price rises at Swiss supermarkets

Shrinkflation: Experts warn of hidden price rises at Swiss supermarkets

It’s the bane of shoppers across the world, but now the concept of shrinkflation has fully cemented itself in supermarkets in Switzerland, a new report from the Consumer Protection Foundation (SKS) has revealed. They found that people in the alpine nation are paying up to 11 percent more for products than they used to thanks to companies offering less for the same price.

Shrinkflation part and parcel of shopping in Switzerland

In tandem with SRF’s Kassensturz programme, the SKS revealed that shrinkflation has become a prominent part of shopping in Switzerland. A portmanteau of shrink and inflation, the phenomenon refers to when companies sell products for the same price and often with the same packaging, despite containing less product than before. 

For example, SRF found that the size of an eight-pack of Kiri cream cheese has fallen from 160 to 144 grams in the last year, while the price has remained the same. This means that consumers would have to pay 11 percent more for the same amount of cheese.

This was also found in the price of Becel margarine, where people pay the same amount for packs that are 25 percent smaller than in previous years. It’s not just food either, with customers paying 10 percent more for the same number of tampons.

Recipe and product changes hard to spot, say SKS

Speaking to SRF, SKS managing director Sara Stadler said that along with reduced serving sizes, it is “common” for international companies to cut costs by using cheaper ingredients while keeping prices the same. For instance, Milka Cookies have kept their prices the same, despite recently swapping out sunflower oil for much cheaper palm oil.

Stadler noted that shrinkflation is difficult for consumers to spot as the price and appearance of the product often remain the same. “Shrinkflation is practically unnoticeable. Consumers cannot constantly compare quantities and pack sizes. And the manufacturers take advantage of that,” added Audrey Morris from NGO Foodwatch France.

Switzerland not doing enough to combat shrinkflation

Stadler conceded that Switzerland and its government are not doing as much as other European nations to combat the problem. France, for example, is pushing for EU regulation on shrinkflation, with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire describing the practice as a “scandalous fraud” on local TV show France Info

For their part, companies that responded to SRF argued that their price and packaging changes reflected an improved or more environmentally friendly product. For Kiri cream cheese, Bel Group managing director Cécile Beliot-Zind told broadcaster BFM that their shrinkflation was a consequence of a better recipe. “We have changed the recipe. We made an innovation,” she argued.

Swiss supermarkets must act to curb shrinkflation, argues SKS

Nevertheless, Stadler said that major Swiss supermarkets have a responsibility to make sure prices reflect the products people are buying. “The big retailers are more powerful than they pretend. You could negotiate better prices. That would be overdue, especially in order to combat the high-price island of Switzerland.”

She encouraged anyone who notices shrinkflation in Switzerland to report it to them using the official link.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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