Stealth Inflation: Honey, They Shrunk Your Lunch (Slide Show)
Business + Economy

Stealth Inflation: Honey, They Shrunk Your Lunch (Slide Show)

Last week, the CEO of Wal-Mart warned consumers that they should prepare for “serious” inflation on clothing, food, and other products. Wholesale prices had the steepest increase in February in 36 years, and Hershey even announced a 13-percent price hike on its candy bars. 

As Americans dole out more for their gas and T-shirts, another form of inflation is quietly taking place behind factory walls – the package size of many foods is shrinking, while prices are staying the same or even rising.  A wave of stealth downsizing has rippled through grocery store aisles since the recession began. Edgar Dworsky, a former retail advertising specialist at the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs, has been tracking the trend for 20 years and posts evidence of ever-smaller packages on But lately, recession-battered consumers are taking notice — and they don’t like what they’re seeing on store shelves. “I bought three boxes [of pasta,] and it wasn’t enough” Lisa Stauber complained to The New York Times recently. “It’s sneaky because they figure people won’t know.”

With the recent uptick in raw material, fuel, and food prices, Dworsky thinks it’s only going to get worse. With food prices expected to rise for the rest of 2011, it’s likely “that we will see a new round of downsizing,” he says.

Click through the slide show here to see other incredible shrinking food packages.