Tampa, Florida – US President Joe Biden took aim at big food companies during the Super Bowl, accusing them of engaging in “shrinkflation” – reducing product sizes while keeping prices the same. The President expressed his frustration in a video message, stating that the American public is “tired of being played for suckers” by these companies.
The Super Bowl, a major event in the world’s wealthiest country, draws a massive audience and attracts advertisers looking to market their products. While the Sunday game saw the Kansas City Chiefs emerge victorious, President Biden’s video likely made for uncomfortable viewing for major food companies such as PepsiCo, Mondelēz, and Unilever.
Though the President did not directly name any specific products or companies, the video prominently featured items like Gatorade, Breyers ice-cream, Tostitos, Doritos, and Oreo cookies. Biden highlighted the reductions in product sizes, pointing out how sports drink bottles now contain less, chip bags have fewer chips, and even ice-cream cartons have shrunk in size, all while prices remain unchanged.
The President’s criticisms come amidst a backdrop of concerns over inflation, with the consumer price index soaring above 8% in 2022. Economists have attributed this inflation to various factors, including monetary policy stimulus in response to the Covid pandemic, rising global energy prices due to geopolitical tensions, and substantial government spending initiatives.
In response to rising costs, it is believed that some companies have resorted to shrinkflation and ‘skimpflation’, which involves changing recipes to reduce the quantity of more expensive ingredients. This practice has raised concerns among consumers and policymakers alike, as they grapple with the impact of inflation on their purchasing power.
Biden’s message to the food industry is a clear signal of his administration’s stance on corporate practices that affect consumers. It remains to be seen how the companies addressed in the video will respond to the President’s criticisms and if there will be any further action taken to address the issue of shrinkflation in the market.