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Senator Baldwin Introduces Bill to Crack Down on Big Corporations Shrinking Products Without Reducing Prices

Earlier this week, Senator Baldwin also introduced bill to stop big corporations from price gouging consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Shrinkflation Prevention Act to crack down on corporations that deceive consumers by selling smaller sizes of their products without lowering the prices.

“Whether it’s a bag of chips, paper towels, or coffee, we are seeing the same disturbing trend: big corporations are shrinking the size of their product but continuing to charge Wisconsin families the same price. Wisconsin families work hard, but when they check out at the grocery store, they are being ripped off by this corporate greed and we’ve got to put an end to it,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our bill will hold these greedy corporations accountable when they shortchange Americans, bring some basic transparency to the ‘shrinkflation’ that’s hurting Wisconsinites, and work to lower household costs for families.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, big corporations took advantage of the crisis to prey on consumers through greedflation: raising prices by even more than necessary to cover increases in their costs, and hiding behind inflation and supply chain disruptions to do it. Now that the market shock of the pandemic has largely abated, corporations’ costs are coming down and profits are rising. But for American families, prices remain high. Now, ‘shrinkflation’ is contributing to the problem. 

For example, food products like name-brand cereals, chips, and crackers shrank the sizes of some of their products, while keeping the price stable. In the case of Cocoa Puffs, General Mills reduced its “Family Size” from 19.3 ounces to 18.1 ounces of cereal while charging the same price. Frito-Lay also reduced the size of a bag of Doritos from 9.75 ounces to 9.25 ounces, while their profits increased 9 percent from 2021 to 2022. Meanwhile, Mondelez International shrunk a family size box of Wheat Thins from 16 ounces to 14 ounces, but kept the price the same.

Consumers are also feeling the squeeze with common products used around the house. Charmin Ultra Soft Mega rolls decreased from 264 double-ply sheets a roll to 244 sheets, while Ultra Soft Super Mega rolls have decreased from 396 sheets to 366. Walmart’s Great Value paper towels also shrank from 168 two-ply sheets per roll to 120, while Proctor & Gamble, the makers of Dawn, reduced the formerly 7-ounce dish soap to 6.5 ounces but left the bottle the same physical size with the same price.

The Shrinkflation Prevention Act would:

  • Direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to promulgate regulations to establish shrinkflation as an unfair or deceptive act or practice, prohibiting manufacturers from engaging in shrinkflation;
  • Authorize FTC to pursue civil actions against corporations who engage in shrinkflation; and
  • Authorize state attorneys general to bring civil actions against corporations engaging in shrinkflation.

This legislation is led by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The bill is endorsed by Groundwork Collaborative, Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, and WorkMoney.

Senator Baldwin has been leading the charge to keep costs down for Americans and hold big companies accountable for price gouging consumers. Earlier this month, she introduced the Price Gouging Prevention Act, legislation to crack down on corporate price gouging and protect American families from corporate greed with a new federal ban on grossly excessive price increases. Earlier this year, she launched an investigation into the extremely high prices four large pharmaceutical companies charge for inhalers and successfully advanced her bipartisan bill to bring basic transparency to drug pricing in the Senate. Last year, Senator Baldwin led the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act to crack down on profiteering by Big Oil and give working families relief.

More information about the Shrinkflation Prevention Act can be found here.