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Biden calls on snack companies to stop ‘shrinkflation’

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© Reuters. A person shops in a supermarket as inflation affected consumer prices in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., June 10, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday 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,” Biden 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.

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.

Senator Bob Casey, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children & Families, in December released a report that showed the impact of smaller product sizes on everything from toilet paper to Oreos.

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% percent of the increase.

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 COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last month.

Since taking office, 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.

Casey’s office said he had sent letters to the trade associations representing household consumer products, food and beverage corporations demanding answers about pricing strategies, package size practices and how shrinkflation affects customers. It was not immediately clear if they had responded.

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