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The Slow Extinction of the 12oz Coffee Retail Bag: A Case of Shrinkflation - Opinion

Specialty coffee drinkers may have noticed a curious trend in recent years - the shrinking size of retail coffee bags. The standard 12oz bags of coffee are becoming increasingly rare, with smaller 10oz, 8oz or even 6oz bags taking their place. Shrinkflation has been a prevalent practice across various industries for several years, and it's no different in the coffee industry where it's becoming more widespread.

Large and small coffee bags

Shrinkflation is not unique to the coffee industry, and it has been observed across many other consumer goods categories. Essentially, shrinkflation is a tactic that companies use to maintain profitability in the face of rising production costs. Instead of raising prices outright, they reduce the size or quantity of the product while keeping the price the same. This can be a way companies pass on the costs to consumers without them noticing.

Businessman worried about inflation

One of the main drivers behind the downsizing of coffee bags is the rising cost of coffee beans. Coffee is a commodity that is subject to fluctuations in price based on various factors like weather conditions, global supply and demand, and currency exchange rates. In recent years, coffee prices have been on the rise due to droughts and other climate-related issues in coffee-producing regions, as well as increased demand from growing coffee markets like China. To offset these higher costs, coffee roasters and retailers have been reducing the size of their bags while keeping prices relatively stable.

Another factor behind the downsizing of coffee bags is the growing popularity of single-serve coffee pods and other alternative coffee formats. While traditional ground coffee is still the most common way to make coffee at home, more and more people are using Keurig machines, Nespresso pods, and other products that offer convenience and customization. These products typically come in smaller package sizes than traditional bags of ground coffee, which may be leading retailers to adjust their packaging strategies.

So what does this mean for coffee consumers? On the one hand, smaller bags of coffee may be more affordable and accessible to some people, especially those who don't drink a lot of coffee or who prefer to try different varieties. However, frequent coffee drinkers may find themselves running out of coffee more quickly and having to make more trips to the store to restock. Additionally, the smaller bags may contribute to more packaging waste overall, as consumers may need to buy more bags over time.

At Tectonic, we recognize the value of offering consumers choice when it comes to their coffee purchasing decisions. While we understand the reasons behind the downsizing trend, we will continue to sell 12oz retail bags as long as it makes sense financially. It's important to consider the per oz price of coffee when comparing different package sizes, as a smaller bag may have a higher per oz price than a larger bag. By providing consumers with clear and transparent pricing information, we aim to empower them to make informed decisions about their coffee purchases.

Overall, the slow extinction of the 12oz coffee retail bag is a clear example of shrinkflation in action in the already complex and evolving nature of the coffee industry. While some coffee drinkers may miss the larger bag size, many enthusiast like myself find that the new packaging options offer greater flexibility and variety. Regardless of your preferences, it's important to be aware of this trend and to consider all of your options when making purchasing decisions.

Get to know Roaster and Quality Control Specialist Daniel Castrellon

Danny Castrellon - Left

Daniel Castrellon (Left) pictured with Apprentice Roaster Gustavo Chaise (Right).

Hey there, I'm Daniel Castrellon, Head Roaster and Quality Control Specialist at Tectonic Coffee. Joining the coffee industry in 2019 I have over 3 years of coffee roasting experience, with a passion for specialty coffee since 2011. I bought my first espresso machine a year later and dove deep into the espresso rabbit hole where I still reside to this day. 

I'm always exploring new ways of bringing out the most sweetness and acidity from our coffees. I believe that to stay ahead in this industry, we must evolve and continue to learn. That's why I'm always seeking new techniques and ideas to refine my skills to bring the best possible coffee to our customers.

In addition to my coffee experience, I have over 15 years of expertise in warehouse management, logistics, and wholesale, working with various companies both inside and outside of the coffee industry. Most recently, working for the top brand in mixed martial arts apparel.

When I'm not working, you can find me constantly brewing coffee at home, experimenting with fermenting foods, going to shows, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. 

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