From 5 fewer Doritos to shrunken Gatorade bottles, here are the insidious ways companies are charging the same amount for less stuff

Doritos 15
Doritos is among several common consumer products that succumbed to shrinkflation recently.Hollis Johnson
  • Everyday products like Doritos and paper towels are experiencing "shrinkflation."

  • The companies that makes these products are reducing the amount you get, but not lowering prices.

  • Shrinkflation is a side-effect of inflation, which is being boosted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Perhaps more than any other economic concept, inflation is felt in real-time by everyone.

The cost of gas rises, as does the cost of most consumer goods, and you're reminded of that reality every day.

"Shrinkflation," however, offers companies a more insidious way to hide those rising costs from people.

Would you notice if, say, a bag of Doritos had five fewer chips? How about if your roll of Bounty paper towels contained a handful fewer sheets? The price is the same, of course, you just get less.

PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble are betting you won't.

Both companies, alongside dozens of others documented by Consumer World, have enacted "shrinkflation" on a variety of major consumer goods: Everything from Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to Gatorade to Charmin toilet paper.

Many of these size changes are subtle, like making candy bars sold in multipacks smaller than ones being sold individually, or changing the shape of their products so you can barely notice the difference in weight.

Gatorade, for instance, was given a sleek new bottle design alongside a decrease in volume from 32 to 28 ounces — a price jump of about 14% that most Gatorade drinkers probably didn't notice.

"Basically we redesigned the bottle," a PepsiCo representative told Quartz. "It's more aerodynamic and it's easier to grab. The redesign generates a new cost and the bottles are a little bit more expensive … this is only a matter of design."

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The old Gatorade.Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Procter & Gamble-owned Charmin toilet paper also saw a reduction by about 20 sheets-per-roll — part of a decades-long reduction in toilet paper roll size, as tracked by Consumer World.

Rather than shrinking their products, public companies like PepsiCo have two other options when facing inflation: Raise prices, which could result in fewer sales, or accept lower profits on existing sales, which will assuredly upset shareholders.

Given the options, it's no surprise that so many choose shrinkflation.

Inflation, meanwhile, is on the rise faster than at any point in over 30 years. That's according to the Consumer Price Index, which the US Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to monitor inflation.

Rising labor costs and ingredients prices, combined with soaring demand and a shipping crisis, are among the many reasons for the ongoing inflation issues.

Broadly, the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the global economy, and Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine has had a more recent impact on the global oil market due to Russia's role as an oil producer.

What this means for the average person, of course, is higher prices per gallon at the pump and less toilet paper for the same amount you used to pay.

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