McVities to cut number of biscuits in packs in latest round of 'shrinkflation'
Fewer biscuits will be packaged in McVities Digestives, while the number of Penguin bars will be cut in multi-packs as shop prices across the industry reach record levels.
In the latest bout of ‘shrinkflation’ – a term for the reduction in quantity or size while prices remain the same – there are set to be three fewer Digestive biscuits in each pack.
Penguin bars and Club biscuits, which are both often sold in packs of eight, are now expected to come in seven.
Pladis, the parent company of the three brands, told ITV News the changes are in response to several factors, including “inflationary pressures.”
A spokesperson said: “The pack content of our products is subject to periodic change to reflect consumer preference, customer demand, affordability and industry-wide inflationary pressures.
"Like many businesses, we continue to see an unprecedented rise in input costs. We openly discuss the impact of these with our retail customers, who decide their retail selling prices independently.”
So-called ‘shrinkflation’ is not a new concept – the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2016 between 1% and 2.1% of food products they sampled has shrunk in size, while between 0.3% and 0.7% got bigger.
But there are fears that rising inflation and energy bills have exacerbated the issue for businesses.
Several items have already been reduced over the past 12 months, with Cadbury’s parent company Mondelez also blaming inflation after cutting the size of Dairy Milk sharing bars by 10% in March last year.
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It comes as shop prices shot to record highs after inflation accelerated in January, with a warning that the peak is yet to arrive.
Prices are now 8% higher than they were last January, up from 7.3% in December and above the three-month average of 7.5%, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index.
Overall food inflation rose to 13.8% from 13.3% in December – the highest inflation rate in the category on record.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retail prices rose in January as discounting slowed and retailers continued to face high input costs.
“With global food costs coming down from their 2022 high and the cost of oil falling, we expect to see some inflationary pressures easing.
“However, as retailers still face ongoing headwinds from rising energy bills and labour shortages, prices are yet to peak and will likely remain high in the near term as a result.”
Meanwhile, consumer group Which? reported in January the inflation of biscuits from December 2021 to December 2022 to be 14.9%, and research from analysts Kantar put grocery price inflation at a record 16.7% to add a potential £788 to annual shopping bills.