Shrinkflation: Diners rail against smaller restaurant portions in Yelp reviews

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – Restaurant portions are getting smaller, and diners are not happy.

Shrinkflation, or the paring down of serving sizes to offset higher costs, is a hallmark of inflationary environments such as the one the United States is currently experiencing. It is on the rise, and it has become so noticeable that consumers are venting about it online, review website operator Yelp said in a report on activity during the second quarter.

“Inflation mentions in Yelp reviews are increasing more than ever before, and for the first time, we’ve seen mentions of shrinkflation-related experiences,” said Ms Pria Mudan, Yelp’s data-science leader.

The most-complained-about restaurants are those serving lower-cost menu items, according to Yelp. These include hot dogs, burgers and pizza.

While prices in the US have surged across the board, food costs have outpaced the general rate of inflation, rising 10.4 per cent in June from a year ago – the largest jump since 1981. The price of bread has risen so sharply, there is data showing consumers are pulling back from the staple.

Restaurant companies are often reluctant to dramatically hike prices, so reducing serving size is another option. Domino’s Pizza reduced boneless wing orders to eight pieces from 10, and Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International, cut the size of its nugget orders.

On Yelp, searches for the least expensive businesses, denoted by a single “$”,  increased by 7 per cent compared with the previous quarter, the company said. The priciest options (“$$$$”) fell by 12 per cent.