Consumer Alert: Shrinkflation is real. Here’s how to beat manufacturers at their own game.

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This Consumer Alert takes a look at a really sneaky way of making you pay more for less. It’s called shrinkflation, and it’s hitting consumers hard. It’s so frustrating because often the packaging looks exactly the same, but there’s less of the product. That’s exactly how they get us. You pick up the bag thinking that the price hasn’t changed. But it has because they’ve changed the amount in the bag without changing the shape of the bag.

Walmart’s Great Value paper towels are a great example. I used them until I recently noticed the number of towels per roll. There used to be 168 sheets, but according to Business Insider, last year they reduced the size to 120 sheets per roll and kept the price the same.

So I switched. I now either buy Costco paper towels or Sparkle at Big Lots. A 15-pack of Sparkle is $10.49, and I did the math for you. That’s less than a penny a towel, the same price Walmart paper towels used to be.

General Mills recently shrank the amount of cereal in some of its family-size boxes. I found a number of family-size boxes of General Mills cereals on Walmart’s website. All the boxes look the same and are priced the same, $4.78.

There are only 15.3 ounces of cereal in the box of Trix, but you get 24 ounces, 37 percent more if you switch to Cheerios Oat Crunch Almond.

Business Insider gives the example of the 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade. Pepsico changed the shape of its Gatorade bottle. They said it was to make it easier to grab. But the old bottles held 32 ounces and the new bottles hold 28. And they’re the same price. So when my 13-year-old is begging for Gatorade, I get a 12-pack of the 12-ounce bottles instead. It’s a better deal, and he drinks less in one sitting.

The Doritos at Target are a real head-scratcher. My daughter likes the spicy ones but my son prefers cool ranch. But the cool ranch is only 9.2 ounces, and the spicy ones are 9.5 ounces. Both are the same price. Isn’t that annoying? I can’t convince my son that the spicy Doritos are better.

Shrinkflation is real. But we can beat manufacturers at their own game by being aware of the actual amount of product in the package. A recent survey recently revealed that we, as parents, spend 35 percent more if the kids are shopping with us. But showing your kids how to price compare is a great lesson in how to get the best bang for your buck, a lesson that will help your kiddo all her life long.