Fewer nuggets and smaller salads – inflation hits US fast food restaurants

Do you feel like you have been fooled by looking at the dish you ordered? It’s not just a figment of your imagination: the portions at the restaurant United States of America they are getting even smaller. Call it duplication: when sizes get smaller, but you continue to pay the same price, or sometimes even more, for the meal or product.

American restaurants are in the same boat as the rest of the country, fighting increased spending on food and fuel which recently helped raise the inflation United States at the highest level of the last 40 years. Restaurants have also raised their prices. Government data showed that spending on out-of-home meals increased 7.2% over the past 12 months. But now restaurateurs are starting to worry about how much they can add to the bill before customers start refusing to pay, particularly for some things considered optional expenses.

So companies are creating some behind-the-scenes strategies to cut costs and portions are getting smaller as a result. We Subways in the United States, wraps and sandwiches from chicken rotisserie roasts fill less. The network by Domino reduced the number of pieces of portions of boneless wings from ten to eight and the customers of Burger King will see the same reduction in their portions of nuggets. Jars of salsa are getting smaller in the Mexican food chain of Salsarita. And in Southport, North Carolina, salads that weighed nearly half a pound Gourmet to Go they are now about 50 grams lighter.

“Yes, inflation is rising,” he said. Carolyn Gherardi, owner of Gourmet to Go, a small restaurant with a veranda and yellow door that offers diners a buffet of homemade meals. For now, he’s keeping the price of these salads at $ 6.95.

“We are trying to keep the same price, but in reality, for a lower cost-benefit,” he said.

The restaurants bet is that consumers won’t be as bothered by a little less fries, or a little less stuffed with their sandwiches, than they would complain if they saw another price hike. It’s a strategy that tends to work because of how our brains process – or don’t process – change, he said. Nailya Ordabayevamarketing professor at Boston College.

“People tend to underestimate changes in the size of things,” he said. “This is very convenient for companies to actually change the size, change the size rather than the price, because people are more aware of price changes.”

Smart grocery shoppers know that re-flavoring is nothing new. Moving to smaller formats is a centuries-old technique for managing tighter margins, particularly for manufacturers of industrial products. But these days, food expenses are rising so rapidly that the practice is becoming more common in both restaurants and supermarkets.

In February the vegan cheesemaker Daiya foods took the 227 gram package of the product off the market and replaced it with a slightly different one with only 200 grams. Recently, Gatorade made a similar move, phasing out its 900ml bottles to only sell its 800ml version. Consumers on the forum r / shrinkflation subreddit have posted photos of examples of smaller potato chips, shrink soap, and lighter bottles of moisturizer.

Not even the toilet paper went through unscathed. In conversation with American Association of Retirees (AARP) Edgar Dworskyfounder of the Consumer World website, said big brands have reduced the number of roll sheets.

Sometimes companies attribute the changes to issues such as supply chain problems or even consumer preferences. THE Gatorade, for example, states that part of the reason the bottle size is smaller is that it’s easier to hold. Subway said the fillings reductions for rotisserie roast chicken sandwiches “reflect our ongoing evolution to improve our offerings and are not a response to inflation.”

Consumers are suspicious of some foul play, assuming restaurants aren’t straightforward. About 56% of American customers said they would be more willing to pay a bit ‘more if restaurants would explain clearly why prices are rising, according to a survey commissioned by market man.

In addition to smaller portions, restaurants are also taking other measures to cope with rising costs, such as changing the type of cut. meat served.

When Salsarita’s chief of operations heard about the nearly 26% increase in the price of the steak, it didn’t go well. The company opted for a cheaper cut of meat than the one they used before. The exchange reduced that increase to around 22%, still an impressive leap, but a little more affordable for most of the network’s 85 franchises. Now the company switches from one cut to another depending on what is available and cheaper.

“I feel like we were very lucky because part of that conversation was, ‘Are we passing on this increase? Or do we put up with it and take the dish off the menu? ”The COO said. Merrick McKinnie. “We were able to reduce that cost by saying we will use any of the cuts.”

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based chain has also turned a supply chain problem into a cost-cutting solution. After having trouble finding standard 120ml plastic containers for servings of sauces, queso and sour cream, restaurants often use 100ml versions. The roughly 20ml reduction does not bother customers, and the company is now considering continuing the reduction, McKinnie said.

“In a world without limits, if there are 120ml and 100ml options, we will move on to the smaller option,” he said.

N / a by J.Alexander, a chain of about 20 steakhouses, filet mignon scraps were thrown in the trash, but now the chefs are grinding up those extra pieces of meat to make cheeseburgers. They are also used in other newly created dishes, such as carne asada tacos, “due to inflation,” the CEO said. Jim Mazany.

“Today we are actually using the whole product,” Mazany said.

Consumers are likely to see more cases of downsizing and cost-cutting measures in the coming months as pricing pressures won’t go away anytime soon. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now expects retail food prices to rise from 5% to 6% this year, roughly double the forecast three months ago.

Bryan Stotland, 53, from Chicago, says she notices smaller portions mainly in supermarkets, but also for appetizers at restaurants. “It’s about $ 20 for an entree and $ 32 for an entree, and they’re about the same size. So, in this respect, the portions have been reduced “.

“Sometimes I get a little frustrated,” he said. “But I think it’s like the economy is suffering, so you understand.” / TRANSLATION OF ROMANA CACIA

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