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President Biden Calls Out ‘Shrinkflation’

Social media video airing ahead of Big Game targets snack makers
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
President Biden
President Biden has taken aim at grocery inflation in recent weeks, issuing challenges to grocers and CPGs.

President Biden is following up on his strong criticism of grocery companies in the wake of high food inflation, turning his sights to manufacturers. In lieu of a traditional sit-down interview before the Super Bowl, he released a video on the social media platform X, decrying the idea of selling less product for the same price.

“You know, when buying snacks for the game, you might have noticed one thing: sports drink bottles are smaller, a bag of chips has fewer chips but they still charging just as much,” he declared. “Ice cream cartons have actually shrunk in size but not in price. I’ve had enough of what they call shrinkflation – it’s a rip-off.”

Biden went on to call out the CPG industry. “Some companies are trying to pull a fast one by shrinking the products little by little and hoping you won’t notice. 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.”

Although snack companies were not mentioned by name in the video, several products appeared in the video behind Biden, including bags of Doritos and Tostitos chips, a box of Wheat Thins, a bottle of Gatorade, a package of Oreo cookies, a bag of Goldfish crackers and containers of Turkey Hill and Breyers ice creams.

So far, the makers of those snacks, including PepsiCo, Mondelēz International and Unilever have not responded to the video on X.

David Chavern, president and CEO of the Consumer Brand Association, did share a statement, noting, "We appreciate that the President has to deflect attention away from inflation that has lingered during his administration.” He said that the association would be open to working with the government on solutions that benefit consumers.

Earlier this month, Chavern also underscored the idea of collaboration instead of using terms like “greedflation.” “While disruptive to the misleading political rhetoric we’re seeing, the reality is that the consumer packaged goods sector would not jeopardize its relationship with consumers — which in many cases has spanned generations and reflects the trust and confidence consumers have in the products and brands we deliver,” he remarked, adding, “Our focus is always on the consumer, being there for them when they need us and doing our part to not just reinforce but continue to grow their purchasing power, which is also why it remains as important as ever for us to secure critical and bipartisan legislation that supports resilient supply chains, ongoing funding to the WIC program and avoiding new tariffs that would unnecessarily burden consumers and domestic manufacturers.”

Various snack companies recently released their latest financial reports. On Feb. 9, PepsiCo shared its fourth quarter and full fiscal year results, revealing a 0.5% decline in revenue during the fourth quarter and projected organic growth of at least 4% in 2024 compared to 9.5% in 2023. On Jan. 30, Mondelēz reported that net revenues for the full year grew 14.4%, driven by organic net revenue growth, but called for slower growth this year, predicting a 3% to 5% growth on organic net revenue for 2024. 

Meanwhile, Unilever provided its quarterly and yearly update on Feb. 8, showing that underlying sales growth increased 7%, but ice cream had a “disappointing” year with declining market share and profitability. “Inflation remained high and private label gained share as consumers looked for value propositions in this discretionary category,” the company declared.

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