The Shrinkflation Diet

March 17, 2022

When smaller portions (maybe) make you eat less.

This morning, as I was transferring a bagel from the freezer to the toaster, I had my usual debate with myself as to whether I should eat one half or the whole thing.

“The whole thing” usually wins. But this time the victory was a little easier, because as I held the bagel, it looked noticeably smaller than before. I couldn’t help wondering if this was an example of food downsizing – getting less for the same amount of money.

This phenomenon has been dubbed “shrinkflation.” We’ve seen it with fast food restaurants cutting back on chicken nuggets per order, with ice cream processors downsizing their tubs and Frito-Lay reducing Doritos from 9.75oz to 9.25oz.

This is obviously easier to do with products that come in pieces in a bag or box. The Doritos downsizing, for example, is estimated to come to about five fewer chips per bag. Reducing the physical size of a product is not as easy, and it’s more liable to be noticed by consumers.


I’m not 100% sure that my bagel really is smaller. Let’s just say that I now feel ever so slightly better about gobbling the whole thing.