Have you been to the supermarket recently and noticed that you’re paying the same price for a lot less? For example, a standard loaf of bread used to be 500g but it’s now packaged as 400g for the same price as before. This phenomenon is known as shrinkflation. However, business providers have taken this a step further. They’re cutting back on quality, and availability while keeping prices the same. For instance, you can be paying the same price for a Wi-Fi service since you first applied for it a few years ago. But you’ve noticed internet speeds are slower, maintenance takes too long, and customer service is relegated to AI and automated messages. This is shrinkflation’s wicked stepsister, skimpflation.
In simpler terms, skimpflation is when a manufacturer skimps on the quality of a product. According to the BBC, it can be a direct result of inflation. When the cost of raw materials increases, businesses spend less on the process to maintain their profit margins without increasing prices.
Examples of skimpflation
A common example of skimpflation is when phone manufacturers remove chargers from the phone’s box. You’re forced to buy the charger separately or buy a more premium model to get the charger. Phones have also removed cables, earphones, phone cases, and other amenities that used to be standard. Other manufacturers also reduce the quality of these items to ensure they don’t spend too much money maintaining a standard.
Food manufacturers also remove common ingredients and reduce the amount of product in the bottle (shrinkflation). On the surface, it appears as though you’re not spending extra money or even making savings because different brands have been forced to increase prices to maintain standards. However, because the “skimpflator” has reduced its standards, the product can end up costing you more in the long run. They can replace preservatives with compounds that are more compromising, or alter healthier sweeteners for white sugar. Hidden sugars can have far-reaching consequences for your health, especially when the total mass of the product is less but the sugar is a lot to compensate for the same amount of sweetness. 13 Hidden Sources Of Sugars In Common Foods And Drinks You Should Know
Skimpflation is especially concerning regarding food manufacturers because additives can have dangerous consequences when the product is consumed for a long time. It’s especially insidious when manufacturers swap out safer ingredients for cheap alternatives. Without proper labelling, you can easily take something that’s not meant for excessive consumption.
Skimpflation is also concerning. Some toilet paper manufacturers also made the ply thinner. They’re using less pulp and this makes you use more toilet paper to ensure you’ve cleaned a mess entirely. When cosmetics are subjected to skimpflation, users can also damage their skin. Skincare: 6 Ingredients To Watch Out For In Beauty Products
How to identify skimpflation
There isn’t a legal standard that forces companies to disclose every time they change their amounts. Consumers usually notice the changes after talking with others. Some don’t even know about the changes until after. For example, sodas used to be 355ml whereas now they sell for 330ml without a price reduction.
If you are not sure about the quality of a product you can avoid these products and choose different brands that don’t compromise quality even when they increase prices.
Kenyan crisp packers have gone a step further to make the chips thinner, reduce the flavours, increase sugar, and reduce the amount within a packet. Switching to trusted brands can help you ensure the quality of the crisps you consume. But what do you do when what you thought was a trusted brand engages in these practices?
Putting your ear down to the ground on buyer beware sites and other consumer watchdogs can also help you know which brands to avoid. In certain circumstances, it can be necessary for your health. For instance, African users of menstrual pads found out that brands were short-changing their continental consumers. Brands like Always were using harsh materials to make the top layer of the pad which led to infections, sepsis, and skin irritations. Female menstrual products are also not entirely regulated. Manufacturers can easily cut corners to maintain profits. We Are Not Children Of A Lesser God. Women In Kenya Are Asking For Quality Always Pads Like Those In The International Market
Supermarkets will still get profits even when people are still pinching pennies to survive. Consumers are subjected to these costs even at the expense of their health. It feels like companies are trying to trick you and it may seem impossible to get the upper hand or simply get by. Your best bet may be alternating to homemade goods or manufacturers with a better reputation, and being careful about packaging labels.
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