US economy

Joe Biden criticises snack makers for ‘shrinkflation rip-off’

Joe Biden has criticised food companies for alleged “shrinkflation”, making products smaller while keeping prices the same, in a video to mark the Super Bowl.

The US president criticised big consumer brands for a shrinkflation “rip-off” on Sunday night and said the “American public is tired of being played for suckers”.

He added: “Some companies are trying to pull a fast one by shrinking the products little by little and hoping you won’t notice.”

American football’s blue riband event attracts a huge audience in the world’s wealthiest country, and advertisers flock to market their products. Sunday’s game was won by the Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the San Francisco 49ers in a dramatic last-play comeback.

Biden had declined to take part in a television interview, typically conducted with the president before the Super Bowl. However, the video would have made uncomfortable viewing for some of the world’s biggest food companies, including PepsiCo, Mondelēz and Unilever.

The president did not name any products or companies directly, but the video, published on the official presidential X account, showed products including Gatorade drink, Breyers ice-cream, Tostitos and Doritos crisps, and Oreo cookies.

Biden said: “Sports drinks bottles are smaller, a bag of chips has fewer chips, but they’re still charging just as much. As an ice-cream lover, what makes me the most angry is that ice-cream cartons have actually shrunk in size.”

PepsiCo, whose brands include Gatorade, Doritos and Tostitos, was approached for comment, as were the Oreo owner Mondelēz and the owner of Breyers, Unilever.

US consumer price index inflation soared above 8% in 2022. That was in part, some economists believe, driven by several factors including monetary policy stimulus in response to the Covid pandemic, the huge rise in global energy prices as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and heavy government spending pushed by Biden and other countries.

Inflation dropped to 3.1% in December but some companies are thought to have responded to rising costs by marginally shrinking the size of products – shrinkflation – as well as changing recipes to reduce the amount of more expensive ingredients – sometimes known as “skimpflation”.


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