Chocolate and Confectionery and the “Shrinkflation” Trend
With Easter right around the corner, chocolate, confectionery, and candy are everywhere.
Supermarket shelves up and down the country are stacked full of exciting, colourful treats including chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, mini eggs, crème eggs, jellybeans, cupcakes, peanut butter eggs and many other hollow eggs which satisfy any type of sweet tooth.
However, before you start loading your trolley and baskets with egg-shaped goodies, make sure you check to see if they’ve become the latest victim of “shrinkflation”. In other words, they’ve become smaller in size, but the price remains the same.
Shrinkflation a Major Trend in Chocolate and Confectionery
If you think your favourite Easter treats or chocolate bars looks smaller than they used to? That is because they probably are.
Unfortunately for chocolate lovers worldwide, ‘shrinkflation’ is a real thing. We mentioned it in a blog article a few years ago “Facing Challenges in the Chocolate and Confectionery Industry”.
The trend has been prevalent in the chocolate and confectionery industry for many years, with firms reducing portion sizes in order to keep them below a certain price point.
But why exactly are manufacturers resorting to reducing the size of their candy and chocolate bars?
Factors Fuelling Shrinkflation of Chocolate and Confectionery Products
Experts say the phenomenon is largely being fuelled by mounting cost pressures. There’s been an increasing demand for cocoa and other key ingredients required to make chocolate which has resulted in prices skyrocketing.
In addition, chocolate production has been severely impacted by climate change in recent years. Climate events including droughts and rising temperatures in the biggest cocoa exporting countries, have had devastating impacts on yields and quality.
Some chocolate makers have also blamed the childhood obesity crisis for shrinkflation, with many manufacturers downsizing chocolate bars in a bid to cut calories to help tackle obesity.
Which Chocolate and Confectionery Products are Affected by Shrinkflation?
So, which beloved Easter chocolate products have been hit by shrinkflation?
Crunchie, Crème Egg, and a lot of hollow Easter eggs have decreased in weight by almost 10 per cent – from 258g in 2019 to 233g this year. Mini eggs have also reduced in size, with the usual 90g pack being replaced with an 80g version in 2019.
Crème eggs have also decreased in size and the number of eggs contained in multipacks has gone down from six to five.
And it’s not just chocolate bars that have been subject to “shrinkflation”. It’s happening to a wide range of products including fruit juices, sugar, jams, syrups and other food and beverage products. It’s even happening to household items such as toilet roll and toothpaste, which are now being sold in smaller packet sizes.
With manufacturers facing even higher costs for energy, ingredients, transport, and packaging, it’s predicted that more shrinkflation is set to come in the foreseeable future.
Options for Chocolate Manufacturers to Maintain and Boost Margins
Many chocolate and confectionery manufacturers are using shrinkflation as an alternative to increasing prices.
Most people won’t notice small changes to the size of a product. Therefore, shrinkflation is a less visible method of passing the cost increases to the customer, instead of hiking up the price. In this way, manufacturers can maintain or boost their profit margins to meet with the higher production costs.
Another option for manufacturers to manage rising production costs would be to use cheaper ingredients. However, this move can be risky especially in the age of social media where it will soon be noticed and may lead to a PR disaster.
What’s more, if the quality of the chocolate and confectionery item is seen to have declined due to using cheaper ingredients, customers may decide to switch to a competing brand.
Instead, most chocolate and confectionery manufacturers decide to go down the route of keeping the price and ingredients the same but giving customers a little less i.e., shrinkflation.
The Problem with Shrinkflation
When chocolate and confectionery manufacturers undertake shrinkflation as a cost-cutting measure, they face the risk of severe backlash and eroding the consumer’s brand loyalty.
For example, when a well-known chocolate brand changed the shape and weight of their iconic chocolate bar, it resulted in momentary outrage in the UK. People were not happy that they were getting less chocolate for the same price. As a result, the chocolate manufacturer was forced to quickly revert to the original shape in fear of losing customers and sales.
Likewise, there was huge backlash recently when a leading confectionery manufacturer announced that that all chocolate bars sold in multi-packs will be smaller by the end of 2021. Chocolate lovers across Twitter called out the brand for shrinkflation and not reducing the price of the bars.
Alternatives for Chocolate and Confectionery Manufacturers
So, what can manufacturers do instead when faced with higher costs for energy, raw materials, ingredients, and packaging?
An extremely effective way for chocolate and confectionery manufacturers to lower their costs and improve their profit margins is by using liquid product recovery (“pigging”) technology.
Pigging recovers residual liquid product from pipelines, that would otherwise be lost to waste. By recovering valuable product from the pipes, pigging increases yields and reduces waste.
Pigging also reduces the waste of other products commonly used in confectionery manufacture for flushing such as butter and oil (here’s an article on how pigging systems help chocolate manufacturers reduce waste).
Therefore, pigging is considered a serious way of reducing costs and increasing profitability in chocolate and confectionery production.
Ways Pigging Systems Save Money and Improve Profitability
In addition to increasing yields and reducing waste, other ways pigging saves money is by reducing disposal costs, lowering energy usage, decreasing labour costs, increasing equipment uptime, and reducing downtime.
HPS custom pigging systems also offer the additional benefits to chocolate manufacturers of reducing cross-contamination risks, ensuring consistent product quality, boosting flexibility, increasing production efficiency, improving lot control plus much more.
What’s more, the pigging process is extremely quick (here’s a video which shows the speed of the pigging process). Therefore, pigging is a fast and easy way for manufacturers of chocolate, candy, and confectionery products to improve their processes, profitability, and effectiveness.
Pigging Delivers High Return on Investment
The benefits of pigging for chocolate and confectionery production are significant.
Importantly, HPS pigging systems deliver rapid payback and a remarkable return on investment.
Payback from pigging can be often achieved in just a few months. However, payback depends on a number of factors such as the length of the pipe, the value and type of product, number of changeovers and so on. Here’s our Pigging System Savings Calculator which can help you quickly estimate how much you could be saving from a pigging solution.
Find Out More
HPS is the world’s leading experts in pigging and liquid product recovery for manufacturers of chocolate, confectionery, candy and other food and beverages.
Our proven pigging solutions for chocolate are trusted throughout the world by leading brands including Ghirardelli, Hershey, Lindt, Nestle, Mondelez and many others.
For more information about reducing your waste, lowering your costs, and improving profitability through pigging solutions, please contact HPS – the process system experts.