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Tide detergent box gets smaller, but is it really shrinkflation?

Woman stumped by smaller box that claims more loads
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Posted at 3:34 AM, Aug 09, 2023

We've been hearing more and more reports in the past year about shrinkflation, where you pay more but get less of a product. But after one viewer contacted us about a possible case of shrinkflation, we learned that sometimes getting a little bit less isn't always a bad thing.

Gerri Blust says half the things in her fridge have shrunk in recent years. When she recently went to do a load of laundry, she thought she found another case of shrinkflation.

"I started a new box and I thought, whoa, wait a minute," she said.

Blust's new box of Tide detergent was 22 ounces smaller, 232 ounces versus 254 ounces in the old box she still had. But then she noticed the new smaller box claims more loads.

"The old box was giving me 180 loads, and the new box was supposed to give me 183 loads," she said.

She was stumped because it did not make sense that the smaller box would contain more loads.

"How is P&G doing that? How can I get more loads out of a box that weighs less than what my old box weighs," she asked.

P&G: It is not shrinkflation

We contacted Tide's manufacturer, Procter and Gamble, which claims it is not a case of shrinkflation.

"Tide recently improved and concentrated the powder formula. That means there's more cleaning ingredients per ounce. That's why you get virtually the same amount of loads in a smaller size and the same clean you've come to trust with Tide," Tide senior communications manager Jennifer Beck said in a statement.

With that mystery settled, we turned to shrinkflation guru Edgar Dworsky of ConsumerWorld, which put the term shrinkflation into the popular vernacular. He says cases like these are rare, and says this type of information -- about a product giving you more -- should be on packages loud and clear.

"If you're making it more concentrated, say so," Dworsky said. "So people understand that you can now use less because it's now a stronger formula. "

He worries that people may use too much, not knowing it is more concentrated. As to where things stand on shrinkflation, Dworsky says things are not as bad this year as they were in 2021 and 2022.

"It seems to have tapered off just a drop," he said. "But as we keep seeing these announcements from major companies that they're raising prices, that's really a euphemism for giving you less.

Blust said it's nice to see when one shrinking product is actually a good thing.

And that way you don't waste your money.

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