Carrefour in France posts 'shrinkflation' warning signs

This week, French supermarket Carrefour placed stickers on its shelves to warn consumers of "shrinkflation," a phenomenon in which package contents shrink while prices remain the same.

Products such as Lipton Ice Tea, Lindt chocolate, and Viennetta ice cream are being named and humiliated.

Customers are informed if a product's vessels are smaller or its contents lighter. Carrefour stated that it intended to exert pressure on the manufacturers to maintain low prices.

Carrefour's director of client communications, Stefen Bompais, explained that the purpose of stigmatizing these products is to convince their manufacturers to reconsider their pricing policy.

Carrefour has discovered that food manufacturers such as Nestle, PepsiCo, and Unilever have reduced the size of 26 of its goods without correspondingly lowering the prices of those products. For example, Carrefour reported that Nestle's Guigoz newborn milk formula had decreased from a pack size of 900 grams to 830 grams in its most recent batch.

According to the information provided to sources by the grocery store, the volume of a bottle of sugar-free peach-flavored Lipton Ice Tea produced by PepsiCo decreased to 1.25 liters from 1.5 liters.

The weight of Unilever's Viennetta has decreased from 350 grams to 320 grams.

Carrefour, the second largest grocery store chain in France, is drawing attention to the products in question by placing labels on the shelves that read: "This product has seen its volume/weight reduce and the effective price charged by the supplier rise."

The multinational corporations Unilever, PepsiCo, and Nestle have chosen not to comment on Carrefour's approach.

As in the United Kingdom, French retailers and food manufacturers are under pressure to reduce prices as consumers struggle with drastically rising prices.

In June, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire convened a meeting of 75 retailers and consumer organizations to discuss prices and accused manufacturers of not adhering to inflation targets.

British consumer groups have also warned of "shrinkflation" influencing the value of common items from cat food to chocolate biscuits.

According to retail expert Ged Futter, it is doubtful that UK supermarkets would follow in Carrefour's footsteps because the strategy risks "poisoning" relationships between retailers and food companies.

Ged Futter also mentioned that this is a very blatant attempt to contend and doing so with manufacturers is ineffective. 

He added that supermarkets use the same "shrinkflation" strategy with their own-label products, attempting to maintain a certain price point, such as £1, by introducing cheaper ingredients or reducing portion sizes to manage rising costs.

Calling out brands for doing the same thing, he explained, would be like "people in glass houses hurling stones" and would risk accusations of hypocrisy.

A spokesperson for Lindt & Sprüngli, another brand identified by Carrefour as reducing the size of its products, stated that the company's prices had increased by an average of 9.3 percent due to increasing raw material costs.

The size of the product was, however, always made explicit, according to the spokesperson.

He mentioned that they always comply with labelling statutes and regulations requiring objective information about the amount of product in the package, such as a net weight statement, a serving size statement, and a servings-per-container statement.

Consumers can use this information to make accurate and well-informed judgments about the quantity of a product to purchase.