Friday 23 Feb 2024
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WASHINGTON (Feb 12): US President Joe Biden on Feb 11 called on snack companies to stop shrinkflation, which is when businesses cut product sizes but keep prices the same, describing the practice as “a rip-off”.

“Some companies are trying to pull a fast one by shrinking the products little by little and hoping you won’t notice,” he said in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.

“Give me a break. The American public is tired of being played for suckers. I’m calling on companies to put a stop to this. Let’s make sure businesses do the right thing now,” he said.

Mr Biden, who offered no solutions or policies to address the practice, did not name any specific companies but several brands were shown in the video, including Gatorade, Doritos, Breyers and Tostitos.

“We appreciate that the President has to deflect attention away from inflation that has lingered during his administration,” said Mr David Chavern, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Brands Association, in a statement. Mr Chavern added that the group would like to work with Mr Biden on “real solutions that benefit consumers”.

PepsiCo, whose brands include Gatorade, Doritos and Tostitos, and Unilever, which makes Breyers ice cream, were not immediately available for comment outside normal business hours. Reuters could also not immediately reach Mondelez, maker of Oreos, and Campbell Soup, which owns Goldfish crackers.

Senator Bob Casey, who released a report in December that showed the impact of smaller product sizes on everything from toilet paper to Oreos, told Reuters in a statement that he was working to assess how widespread such practices were and to hold companies accountable.

The report noted that household paper products were 34.9% more expensive per unit than they were in January 2019, with about 10.3% of the increase due to producers shrinking the sizes of rolls and packages.

It said the price of snacks like Oreos and Doritos had gone up 26.4% over the same period, with shrinking portions accounting for 9.8% of the increase.

A spokesperson for Mr Casey said four major industry associations responded to his letters but none “took responsibility for price-gouging or answered his questions regarding pricing and transparency”.

Although inflation appears to be slowing, the economy remains Americans’ overall top concern, cited by 22% of poll respondents, as they have struggled with inflation and other aftershocks of the pandemic, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last month.

Since taking office, Mr Biden has made a pitch for lower supermarket prices, pushed drug makers to lower insulin costs, hotel chains to reduce fees and tried to diversify the meat-packing industry after beef prices skyrocketed in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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