An NGO warns of “hidden inflation”, a technique used by many brands

Margaux Fodéré and Alexandra Jaegy, edited by Ophélie Artaud

The Foodwatch Association, which campaigns for transparency in the agri-food sector, alerts consumers to certain brands that have tended to reduce the size of their products for several years while increasing prices. It’s called “shrinkflation”, a mixture of the English word “shrink”, which means “to reduce”, and inflation. A practice that goes badly in times of high inflation. According to the NGO, the “Saint-Hubert Omega 3” margarine pot, for example, has lost 4% of its weight in three years, while the price per kilo has increased by 18%. Teisseire would also have reduced the volume of its grenadine syrup by 20% at the end of 2019, while the selling price per liter would have jumped by 37% at Carrefour.

Ask distributors “to be more transparent”

Reducing formats, which increases the price per kilo, in itself, is a practice that is totally authorized. What the NGO criticizes these brands for is not having warned the consumer of the changes. “The problem with this format change is not the format change itself, it’s the consumer’s lack of information. We call on all distributors, all manufacturers, to ask them to be transparent and to indicate directly on the product the information that the formats have changed. So that the consumer is aware of these changes and that he is not misled about the price and the quantity of the products”, explains Camille Dorioz, campaign manager at Foodwatch France.

For their part, the brands, they justify these reductions in size combined with price increases, either by raw materials that cost more, or by the implementation of new formulas. The Bel group, for example, with its famous “Kiri” cheese, is promoting a new recipe without additives with 100% French products and which required several years of research and therefore investment. In addition, Bel ensures that it was never contacted by Foodwatch during this investigation.

“That’s dishonest!”

On the consumer side, Europe 1 went to the exit of a convenience store in the capital to ask customers what they thought of the practices of these manufacturers. And it goes rather badly. “They are thieves, they reduce our packages and increase our prices”, indignantly a customer.

“It’s just one way to raise prices, anyway, it’s not a political issue for me. I’m used to certain products and it doesn’t change anything. Anyway, if it’s a product that I used to buy, I will continue to buy it”, adds another consumer, resigned. “It’s dishonest, it’s scandalous! They are already selling us things that are not very good for the health, if in addition they reduce the proportions… Now I will check”, concludes a third person, who affirms that she will now look at prices per kilo.

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