Non-functional Slack Fill
Also called “shrinkflation” it occurs when consumer products shrink in size or quantity but the prices remain the same – or increase.
About slack fill laws
It’s illegal under both state and federal law for manufacturers to knowingly mislead consumers about the actual volumes inside nontransparent packaging. Although the law is clear, some companies continue to come up with creative ways to hide real product volumes and amounts by the size of their containers.
Fortunately, consumers have taken notice of these deceitful practices and have chosen to fight back against manufacturers.
About slack fill
Slack fill is a term used to describe the difference between the capacity of a container and the actual volume of product inside.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates how consumer product containers are filled.
Often, slack fill litigation cases are filed as class actions to stop the sale of misleading, partially-filled containers to consumers.
The difference between functional and non-functional
There are two styles of slack fill techniques commonly used in consumer product packaging: functional and non-functional. The FDA considers the slack fill space functional when it serves a reasonable purpose. These acceptable, reasonable purposes as defined by the FDA are:
- Protection of the package contents
- The package itself performs a function
- The space is a requirement of the machines used to close the packaging
- Product settling is unavoidable during shipping and handling
- Product consists of a food packaged in a reusable container that has value and presents the food (hold it, gift, commemorative or promotional packaging)
- The inability to increase the level of fill to further reduce the size of the package
But packaging or container space that exists for any other reason is considered “non-functional”.
Slack fill examples
It’s common to find many packaged products that legally integrate slack fill into their container design. Consider the following examples:
The way in which these products are packaged has been approved by the FDA.
Manufacturers that do not abide by the FDA’s official packaging regulations are potentially violating slack fill rules.