SUPERMARKET staples are shrinking in size but prices are staying the same or even rising as sneaky firms seek to boost profits.
Pack sizes have been slashed by up to a FIFTH on many popular brands.
But prices at supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and online store Ocado have not gone the same way, a study by consumer magazine Which? found.
For example, Dairylea Cheese Spread used to come in 200g tubs and cost 99p at Sainsbury's, £1.15 at Morrisons and £1.28 at Asda.
The pack has shrunk to contain just 160g — down by a fifth — but the price at the till has not budged.
Retail analysts blame the move on shoppers being quick to spot price hikes but rarely noticing a smaller pack size.
Other examples include:
The number of nappies in a pack of Pampers Baby-Dry has been cut from 32 to 30 while the price has remained £6.48 at Asda and £6.49 at both Morrisons and Ocado.
Fairy All-in-one dishwasher tablets have gone from 28 per pack to 26 but the price at Asda has stayed at £5. Packs of Bernard Matthews Turkey Ham have shrunk in size from 340g to 300g but still set you back £2.66 at Asda.
Boxes of Birds Eye Crispy Chicken have gone from 360g to 340g while the price at the checkout has remained £2 at Sainsbury's, £2.68 at Asda and £2.99 at Morrisons.
Biscuit buyers have extra reason to be upset, with Fox's Malted Milk Creams packets slimming from 200g to 160g while the price at Sainsbury's ROSE from £1.09 to £1.19. Likewise the content of Branston Smooth Pickle has tumbled from 405g to 360g but the price has soared.
At Morrisons it has risen from £1.47 for the old size to £1.54 now, at Asda it has leapt from £1.38 to £1.64 and at Sainsbury's £1.38 to £1.78.
Meanwhile jars of Streamline Reduced Sugar Blackcurrant Jam have changed from 454g to 400g while the price has flatlined at £1.69 on Morrisons' shelves.
Ambrosia Creamed Semolina used to weigh in at 425g but now you get just 400g — and still pay 86p at Morrisons and 93p at Asda.
Most manufacturers blamed product shrinkage on the need to keep prices down in the face of rising costs.
But Nestle said Cheerios Crunchers had gone from 375g to 360g, with the price steady at £2.09 in Morrisons, because a change in the cereal's formulation meant the larger amount would no longer fit in the box.
Many manufacturers told Which? that supermarkets dictate the final price — but also admitted they had not dropped their recommended retail or wholesale prices.
Supermarkets said they based their prices on wholesale costs.
But Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said yesterday: "We think these shrinking products are little more than hidden price rises."
He added: "Consumers are sick of food manufacturers and supermarkets trying to treat their customers like idiots."
By DANIEL JONES, Consumer Editor
SHOPPERS will have every right to feel ripped off when product packages are shrinking but prices aren't.
Grocery items have always been very price-sensitive because families buy them every week and so get used to what items cost.
Higher prices are spotted and that can hit sales.
But only the sharpest shopper will see that Birds Eye Crispy Chicken is now 20g smaller although the size of the box is no different.
Manufacturers should be more upfront about these sort of shrinkages. After all, supermarkets are all too ready to highlight promotions for, say, 25 per cent extra free.