Thursday, 17 July 2008

Rising Food Prices (MSN News 160708)

The price of some food staples has shot up over the past 12 months as global commodity prices have hit record highs.
The average family shopping bill is up by more than 20% on last year according to figures released this week by the website It found that a typical basket of 24 staple items, such as bread, milk and eggs, now costs around 21% more than in July last year. If you add the increase onto a typical £100 weekly shop for a family of four, households are spending an extra £1,092 a year on food.
The research named and shamed Sainsbury's as the supermarket with the biggest price hikes - the 24 food staples have gone up by 25.7% over the past 12 months.
We all tend to notice if prices rise, especially if the rises are so steep. But there is another, more subtle, way that manufacturers can protect their bottom line: they can give us less for our money.
A jar of mayonnaise, for example, might shrink from 600g to 550g. You wouldn't notice, would you - especially if there was no discernible difference in the size of the jar.
Or what about a bag of nappies? Last summer you might have bought a pack of 96 nappies; now you might only get 92.
It's the incredible shrinking groceries!

The phenomenon has been dubbed "short sizing" and has already hit the shops in America.
Short sizing is perfectly legal. There are some exceptions, but manufacturers can generally sell you as much - or as little - as they like, as long as the net weight is displayed somewhere on the packet. But just because it's legal doesn't make it right. Consumers don't want to be short-changed, especially not in the current economic climate.

We don't want to pay more and get less. Nor do we want a price hike to be disguised by a weight loss.

Shoppers might think it is harder for manufacturers to short size customers with products that are sold by number. You might notice, for example, if your pack of 36 Weetabix suddenly shrank to a pack of 32. But what if the manufacturer keeps the number the same, but cuts the size of each individual Weetabix? Or you might still get six yogurts in a pack, but each one might be that much smaller.
Keep an eye on products that are sold by weight. Would you really be able to tell if a packet of pasta shrank from 500g to 475g? Or what about a ready meal? The portion size could get smaller and you would barely blink an eye.
Foods that are made from wheat, flour or dairy products are particularly vulnerable to short sizing because these ingredients have risen sharply in price, making it harder for manufacturers to protect their margins.
Remember that manufacturers are clever. The packaging is likely to remain the same size, making it harder to detect any changes. So make sure you check on the net weight before you buy.

Extracted from: The incredible shrinking groceries - By Naomi Caine. Courtesy of MSN News
Read the full article here.


Ackworth Born said...

The mental arithmetic I have to do when shopping especially when reading food labels is ridiculous.

Denise said...

I shop at Asda now, get the groceries delivered and get the basic stuff, no labels. It's criminal!