“New smaller size, same great price!” The products we buy are shrinking, and so is the value.

Janet Nguyen Mar 1, 2023
At Dollar Tree, packages of Hampton Farms peanuts have decreased from 1 pound to 8 ounces. Many companies are dealing with inflation by recalculating price versus quantity. Courtesy of Percy Wilson

“New smaller size, same great price!” The products we buy are shrinking, and so is the value.

Janet Nguyen Mar 1, 2023
At Dollar Tree, packages of Hampton Farms peanuts have decreased from 1 pound to 8 ounces. Many companies are dealing with inflation by recalculating price versus quantity. Courtesy of Percy Wilson

For American consumers, there are universal laws governing the shopping experience that are supposed to be immutable. Hot dog buns come in packs of eight. You should be able to buy eggs by the dozen. Milk is commonly sold by the gallon.

But the inflation unleashed during the pandemic has upended the retail environment. As companies have raised prices on many items, they’ve also employed a more covert tactic known as shrinkflation — offering a smaller quantity at the same, or similar, price. So when you break down the cost per unit, the newer items are actually more expensive.

“Marketplace” listener shrinkflation index

ProductPrice increase


Sports drinks
+14% and +43%


Dish soap
Price increases represent instances of shrinkflation provided by “Marketplace” listeners after adjusting for the change in cost per unit.

Although many people’s paychecks have also been increasing, by and large they’re not keeping up with rising prices. Wages and salaries for civilian workers increased by 5.1% overall last year, but after adjusting for inflation, they actually ended up declining 1.2%.

Shrinkflation may be a comparatively subtle way of raising prices, but consumers are taking note.

Meghan Arnold, a social studies teacher at Madison Early College High School in North Carolina, told Marketplace that her students are already familiar with the phenomenon. 

“Shrinkflation is so bad that when I introduced the term in my high school econ class, everyone knew what it was AND gave me legitimate examples they’d seen recently. I’m so proud, but ooooof,” she wrote to us. “They shouldn’t have to understand it firsthand yet!”

It’s not getting past our listeners, either. We asked you for your own examples of smaller product sizes that haven’t come with smaller price tags in tow. 

We independently verified the price and size of the submissions we included, and found that the newer products rose in price after we broke down the cost per unit. 

Here are some of your responses: 

What exactly does “family size” mean?

Lee Craft from Ruidoso, New Mexico, alerted us to Suave’s shrinking hair-care products. 

Craft said that last year, the company’s Ocean Breeze conditioner would come in a 30-ounce bottle and cost $1.94. Now it comes in a 22.5-ounce bottle, but has the same price tag. That means it’s gone from about 6.5 cents an ounce to 8.6 cents.

“New SMALLER size, same GREAT price!” Craft wrote to us. “We still use the stuff. What else can you do? But they’re not fooling us.”

Price change per ounce: +32%

Size change: -25%

Suave’s Ocean Breeze conditioner has decreased in size from 30 ounces to 22.5 ounces. (Courtesy Lee Craft)

Marketplace reached out to Walmart and Unilever, Suave’s parent company, but did not receive a response by publication time. (Unilever recently announced the sale of the Suave brand in North America and said that the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.)

A dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to 

Percy Wilson from Apple Valley, Minnesota, said that Hampton Farms’ salted roasted peanuts are half the size they used to be at Dollar Tree. 

Last year, you could find a 1-pound bag for $1.25. But now packages come in 8 ounces and remain $1.25 each, rising from 7.8 cents to 15.6 cents per ounce. 

Dollar Tree, which had been known for its $1 price tags, also began to increase the standard price point to $1.25 in 2021 amid rising inflation. 

“Needless to say it is no longer called the ‘Dollar Store,’” Wilson said.

Price change per ounce: +100%

Size change: -50%

Hampton Farms’ peanuts are now half the size they were at Dollar Tree. (Courtesy Percy Wilson)

Marketplace reached out to a Dollar Tree spokesperson, who said via email: “Dollar Tree has developed a loyal and growing customer base over the past four decades by providing tremendous value and convenience to our shoppers. We have a unique business with fixed price points.”

“It is vitally important that Dollar Tree exceeds the customer’s expectation for value no matter the price point. We did this for 30+ years at the $1.00 price point, just as we are now with the $1.25 price point,” the spokesperson added.

A Gatorade redesign that gives you less

Joe Silverman from San Diego, California, noticed that the Gatorade bottles he buys at Target weigh less than they used to. 

The 32-ounce bottle now comes in a 28-ounce version that has more of an hourglass design. Lemon-lime Gatorade had previously been listed at $1.59 for a 32-ounce a bottle at Target. Then it shrunk to 28 ounces but kept the same price. It’s risen from just under 5 cents an ounce to about 5.7 cents.  

Target listings for the brand’s fruit punch flavor show that it used to cost $1.29 for 32 ounces, or 4 cents an ounce, but now costs $1.59 for a 28-ounce bottle, or about 5.7 cents an ounce.

Price change per ounce: +14% (lemon-lime) and +43% (fruit punch)

Size change: -13%

Gatorade bottles have shrunk from 32 ounces (left) to 28 ounces (right). (Courtesy Joe Silverman)

Marketplace asked Target and Gatorade for comment but did not receive a response by publication time.

Barbecuing has become a bit pricier

Eric Mesa from Elkridge, Maryland, said that the Kingsford charcoal briquets he buys as part of a 2-for-1 deal at Lowe’s have lost weight. 

Mesa let us know the Lowe’s website shows that a two-pack of 20-pound Kingsford charcoal briquets costs $21.98, which means it’s almost 55 cents a pound. 

But the listing for a two-pack of 16-pound charcoal briquets retails for $19.98 — a couple of dollars less at first glance, but each pound costs 62.4 cents.

Price change per pound: +14%

Size change: -20%

Bags of Kingsford charcoal briquets have been reduced from 20 pounds to 16 pounds a bag. (Left: Photo courtesy Eric Mesa. Right: Janet Nguyen/Marketplace)

Marketplace reached out to Lowe’s and the Clorox Co., Kingsford’s parent company, but did not receive a response by publication time.

Less soap to do the dishes

Bobbie Seaton from Laguna Woods, California, informed us that the pack of Seventh Generation dish soap he buys on Amazon has decreased from six 25-ounce bottles to 19 ounces for the same number of containers. 

Seaton said the 25-ounce six-pack was available for $19.62 in early 2021. The list price for the 19-ounce bottles is $20.82, although the price can fluctuate because Amazon sometimes offers discounts. It recently sold for $17.94. 

That works out to an increase from about 13.1 cents an ounce to 15.7 cents an ounce. 

Price change per ounce: +20%

Size change: -24%

Seventh Generation’s dish liquid bottles have shrunk from 25 ounces to 19 ounces. (Courtesy Bobbie Seaton)

Marketplace contacted Amazon and Unilever, Seventh Generation’s parent company, but did not receive a response by publication time.


Marketplace received other submissions from our listeners that we couldn’t independently verify — including one about pickle shrinkflation from Mark Rydberg, who wrote from Northfield, Minnesota. 

He suspects he’s been getting fewer pickles (from a company we can’t name), even though the weight on the jars he’s purchased has stayed consistent. Here’s what he told us: 

“Prior to last year pickles were packed so tightly in the jar I had to wrestle the first pickles out. Now I open a jar and the top pickles are floating around bumping into each other. Same jar, same weight (water weight), fewer pickles 🥒!

“My shrinkflation story is anecdotal at best, lacking in verified facts from the good old days. But this much I know: my pickles now float freely about in their jar, no longer jammed together like passengers in an Allegiant economy class.”

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