Shrinkflation eats into McVities as Jaffa Cakes are cut in size by nearly 1g – leaving fans devastated
- McVities cut the width of its Jaffa cakes from 5.5cm to 5cm while keeping price
McVities is the latest high street brand to be accused of ‘shrinkflation’ – after shrinking the size of its Jaffa cakes without cutting the price
The treats famed for their sweet, tangy taste are now a tenth smaller – reduced from 5.5cm to 5cm across.
The orange bump has gone from 4cm to 3cm and the weight of each cake has been cut from 12.2g to 11g, The Sun reports.
Boxes remain their usual size and still hold ten Jaffa Cakes – but the overall weight of the package is no longer shown.
The subtle changes to the product have been picked up by fans.
Ben Scott, 36, from Margate, Kent, said: ‘You wouldn’t notice from the packaging. The old and the new boxes are identical to look at.
‘But it’s glaringly obvious with the old and new cakes side by side. The orange jelly bump, my favourite bit, is tiny compared to before.’
Retail expert Sarah Coles said: ‘Shrinkflation feels slightly sneaky but cutting cake size rather than taking one out the pack — and having no weight on the box — means it’s incredibly difficult to spot. You’d need to turn detective.’
She added that it was only by checking the nutritional content on the boxes that shoppers could know of any changes.
The curse of shrinkflation, where products and pack sizes are cut without a corresponding reduction in price, has affected virtually every supermarket aisle.
The manufacturers of everything from biscuits and crisps, to teabags, chocolate bars, nappies, washing up liquid and laundry detergent have used the tactic. Most companies argue it is designed to combat increases in costs.
McVities has been approached for comment.
A recent consumer survey by Barclays found 81 per cent of us are concerned about shrinkflation.
The proportion of people who had noticed changes in products rose from 65 per cent in May to 70 per cent in June, the poll found.
Consumer champion Which? says the tactic means shoppers are now being fooled into paying more for less – and they have called for moves to force stores to change the way prices are displayed to help people find the best- value products.
Its head of food policy, Sue Davies, said: ‘Our research has shown that while some popular products have shrunk, the same can’t always be said for their prices – which means people are inadvertently paying more for less.
‘Consumers are facing enough financial stress during the cost-of-living crisis without having to check for changing packet sizes when they’re doing the weekly shop.’
The Competition and Markets Authority is understood to be sympathetic to the idea.
The ONS produced a study in 2017 which identified more than 2,500 products that had been shrunk in the previous five years. But the problem has escalated in the past 12 months.
The big supermarkets have slimmed down their own-label foods. Tesco, for example, followed rivals in cutting the standard size of its ready meals, from cottage pies to a Thai curry, by 50g to 400g.
Historically, a large loaf was always 800g, but brands including Hovis and M&S now offer versions that are a smaller 750g.
It emerged this week that standard blocks of Lurpak have been cut from 250g to 200g. In this case, the price has come down from £2.25 to £1.90, but that hides a rise in the price per gram by 5.5 per cent.
Among the many other examples, Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice packs were cut from 250g to 220g yet the price remained the same at £1.
Tesco removed 800g jars of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, which cost £3.60 from sale, but it retained the smaller 600g products, at a more expensive £3.75.
And Walkers cut the number of packs of crisps in its Classic Variety multipack from 22 to 20, while the price went up from £4.50 to £4.85 in some stores.
The number of Magnums in a multipack was cut from four to three yet the price remained the same at £3. At the same time, the number of Penguin and Club biscuits in multipacks was cut from eight to seven. A pack of McVitie’s Digestives was cut from 400g to 360g – equivalent to the loss of three biscuits – while the price remained the same at £1.60. A £2 pack of Cadbury Dairy Milk Giant Buttons came down from 240g to 184.8g.
Other products to adopt the tactic include laundry brands such as Daz and Lenor, as well as personal care and bathroom products from Head & Shoulders and Pantene shampoo to Colgate toothpaste.
People switching away from a red meat diet are also being hit, with Richmond cutting the size of its meat-free bacon packs from 150g to 120g while keeping the price the same at £2.70. The Food and Drink Federation, which speaks for manufacturers, suggested some cuts in products might be for health reasons and tackling obesity.
A spokesman said: ‘Food and drink manufacturers are very concerned about stubbornly high food price inflation and its impact on households, particularly those on low incomes.
‘Food price inflation has been driven by massive rises in what it costs to make food and drink over the past three years.
‘Manufacturers continue to do all they can to limit price rises to consumers, which are always a last resort.
‘However, with the cost of ingredients, energy, labour, packaging and logistics rising to the extent they have, to remain viable and protect jobs producers must either seek to share a price increase with retailers or reduce portion sizes.
‘The decision on which option to pursue is informed by UK supermarkets, who ultimately set the prices faced by consumers and have buyer power over which products are placed on their shelves.’