During the Super Bowl, US President Joe Biden released a video criticizing food companies for “shrinkflation” in a bid to deceive consumers. The president accused these companies of making products smaller while keeping prices the same, calling it a “rip-off.” In the video, he highlighted examples of products that have been reduced in size without a reduction in price, including Gatorade, Breyers ice-cream, Tostitos and Doritos crisps, and Oreo cookies.
The Super Bowl is an event that attracts a large audience and is therefore an ideal advertising opportunity for companies. Despite declining a television interview with the president before the game, Biden’s video would have made uncomfortable viewing for some of the biggest food companies such as PepsiCo, Mondelēz, and Unilever. Although Biden did not directly name any products or companies in his criticism, his message was clear.
Inflation has been on the rise in 2022, with the US consumer price inflation index surging above 8%. Some economists attribute this increase to factors such as monetary policy in response to the pandemic, increased global energy prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and significant government spending. In response to rising costs, some companies are believed to be reducing product sizes and altering recipes to contain less expensive ingredients – a practice known as “skimpflation.”
PepsiCo, Mondelēz, and Unilever were approached for comment regarding Biden’s accusations of “shrinkflation,” but they have not yet responded. It remains uncertain how these companies will address the issue and whether there will be any changes to their products as a result of the president’s criticism.