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‘The fact that they are skimming margarine is ridiculous’: Customer claims margarine sticks are smaller now

'Betcha they increased the price too.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Feb 14, 2023

While many conversations about the economy are dominated by the topic of inflation, few are discussing “shrinkflation”—the idea that people are now paying the same price or more for less product.

“In the U.S., a small box of Kleenex now has 60 tissues; a few months ago, it had 65. Chobani Flips yogurts have shrunk from 5.3 ounces to 4.5 ounces,” reads an NPR article from June of last year. “Bags of Fritos Scoops marked ‘Party Size’ used to be 18 ounces; some are still on sale at a grocery chain in Texas. But almost every other big chain is now advertising “Party Size” Fritos Scoops that are 15.5 ounces—and more expensive.”

Now, a user on TikTok has sparked discussion after noting another possible instance of shrinkflation, this time related to margarine.

In a video with over 361,000 views, TikTok user Kat (@thatkatgirl26) shows 8 sticks of Imperial margarine lined up together. Four are noticeably shorter than the others, with Kat claiming she bought the longer sticks a month prior.

@thatkatgirl26 They also have a different wrapper?? But they are the same brand and exact same thing though?!?! Anyone else?!? Am I crazy?! #inflation #foodshrinking #packageshrinking #food2023 #groceryshopping #inflationshopping ♬ original sound – ThatKatGirl

After making this video, Kat was quickly informed by commenters that what she called “butter” was actually margarine and claims she did not realize it until commenters pointed it out.

In the comments section, some speculated that the sticks of margarine aren’t actually smaller; they just appear smaller due to different proportions. 

“Possibly. Margarine isn’t sold by volume, but by weight,” explained one commenter.

“East coast vs west coast sticks. east coast are longer and thinner, west coast are shorter and fatter. you can tell by the tbsp markings,” detailed a second. According to NPR, this is true.

Additionally, the ‘new’ box shown by Kat appears to claim that the total weight of all 4 sticks is 16 ounces, meaning that each stick should weigh 4 ounces. However, as she discovered in a follow-up video, this is not the case.

@thatkatgirl26 Replying to @sassygritsal #butter #foodshrinks #inflation ♬ original sound – ThatKatGirl

In this video, Kat demonstrates that the sticks are .2 ounces lighter than their older counterparts.

This upset commenters.

“The fact that they are skimming Margarine is ridiculous,” wrote one user.

“Betcha they increased the price too,” offered another. “Ridiculous, if they cut that down any more it’ll throw off the measurements on it.”

While some commenters suggested that, if the practice is widespread, the manufacturer could be facing a lawsuit for mislabeling its items, it’s possible that the company may be allowed to do this and fall within the FDA’s expected margin of error.

“FDA allows for a margin of error…so 3.8 per stick might be as low as they can go legally to call 4 sticks a pound,” shared a user.

Whether this was intentional on the part of the manufacturer is unknown, but the FDA does allow a margin of error of around 20 percent for certain measurements. If the manufacturer is doing this intentionally, or if they go outside the margin of error, they could be subject to fines, recalls, or more severe penalties.

For Kat’s part, she doesn’t seem too concerned.

“I think I’m just gonna count my losses and find real butter from now on,” she wrote.

The Daily Dot reached out to Kat via TikTok comment and Upfield, Imperial margarine’s manufacturer, via email.

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*First Published: Feb 14, 2023, 7:58 am CST