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Meet the Man on a Mission to Expose Sneaky Price Increases

todayNovember 26, 2022 5

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Then he turned his attention to shrinkflation. Already that day, he had two television interviews lined up to discuss the downsizing of Halloween candy.

In interviews, he’s the same person he is off-camera: simultaneously goofy and serious, affable yet awkward. Mr. Dworsky ran through the details of his candy investigations, pointing out that some manufacturers have defended smaller products by saying they have fewer calories. But on Halloween, kids don’t care, he said. “They just want some good candy.”

With inflation rattling the nation, shrinkflation recently drew the attention of John Oliver, who noted Mr. Dworsky’s quirky TV presence. “News outlets love to cover this, usually with the help of what seems to be the one go-to expert on the topic,” Mr. Oliver said, rolling clips of Mr. Dworsky emphatically listing examples of downsized products like toothpaste and sports drinks.

“Yeah! You tell ‘em, Ed!” Mr. Oliver says. “I love everything about that man.”

Mr. Dworsky’s work has received notice in academic circles as well. Joseph Balagtas, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University who has studied shrinkflation, said Mr. Dworsky was the only person he was aware of who is documenting the phenomenon. Hitendra Chaturvedi, a supply chain management professor at Arizona State University, said he had turned to Mr. Dworsky’s examples to build the data sets for his own research.

Before setting out to investigate the cough syrup tip, Mr. Dworsky made himself lunch, a seafood wrap from his bargain-hunted pantry. He can rattle off the prices of virtually everything in it. The imitation crab meat had gone up recently to $5.99 for a 2.5 pound package but was still “a great deal.” The celery set him back $1.50, the most he ever spent on celery, he said.

Then he hit the road. First stop, a Walgreens.

It’s difficult to catch shrinkflation, he said. But if he’s lucky, he can find examples in stores when new inventory arrives, putting newer and older packages on the same shelf side-by-side.

Mr. Dworsky also looks out for clues like “New and improved” on packaging. But most importantly, he examines the weight.

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todayNovember 26, 2022