The Great Chocolate Swindle - have you noticed you're paying the same, for less?
The contents get smaller, the prices stay the same. That simply can't be right.
By Chris Pople 03/09/2012 13:12
This Christmas, Quality Street will be including fewer chocolates while keeping the price the same. What a rip-off, says Chris Pople.
According to reports in The Grocer magazine, Quality Street tins will be reducing their tin sizes this Christmas - from 1kg to 820g.
Essentially, every business is trying to make the biggest profit it can get away with while simultaneously trying not to annoy customers so much they go elsewhere. This is not a feature of ‘evil’ businesses or ‘corrupt’ businesses; this is just how business works. Yay capitalism, some would say.
But I’ve long suspected the food industry has the most unpleasant track record in displays of naked profiteering, cynicism and outright deceit.
"It’s easy to quietly and subtly 'adjust', say, the number of chunks on a chocolate bar or the amount of yoghurt in a pot without too many people noticing."
Latest in a long line of consumer rip-offs is the news that tins of Quality Street will contain 18% fewer chocolates but – naturally – will be sold at the same price. This change, by makers Nestle, comes almost exactly a year after rival chocolate manufactures Cadbury pulled exactly the same trick with tins of Roses, reducing the number of sweets per tin by 11.
I’m not sure what’s more depressing, that two of the world’s largest confectionary companies are falling over each other in their enthusiasm to give shoppers a worse deal, or that each has timed the move to coincide with the run-up to Christmas, ensuring the maximum number of people have an ever-so-slightly more disappointing festive period. Ebeneezer Scrooge would, I’m sure, thoroughly approve.
"Hands up anyone who has noticed the size of their favourite hamburgers gradually shrinking over the years?"
Presumably the reason that food and drink companies are more attracted to this kind of subterfuge than other types of business is that it’s easy to quietly and subtly “adjust”, say, the number of chunks on a chocolate bar or the amount of yoghurt in a pot without too many people noticing. As long as the price stays the same, you can be pretty confident that hardly anyone rushing around the supermarket on their weekly shop will bother to check the small-print weight on the packet.
And in a similar vein, hands up anyone who has noticed the size of their favourite hamburgers gradually shrinking over the years? One man, convinced that his Big Mac looked decidedly less big than he remembers from his youth, even went so far as to upload a video analysis to YouTube that went viral and prompted an international debate. McDonalds deny there has been any reduction in size, but how would anyone prove otherwise? The video makes a convincing argument, but we have no time machine. They may have just been able to get away with it, so they did.
So the issue isn’t just businesses being businesses and clawing for extra profits by whichever means possible. The issue is the gradual, deliberate degradation of much-loved food and drink brands by international companies that have no loyalty to tradition or respect for the products they own. And what’s worse is that there appears to be no way of stopping them.
Chris Pople is a food blogger who charts his food experiences online at his blog, Cheese and Biscuits. Follow Chris Pople on Twitter: @chrispople
- DO YOU THINK THE GREAT BRITISH PUBLIC ARE BEING RIPPED-OFF? OR ARE WE ALL FAIR GAME?
- ARE THESE COMPANIES RIGHT TO MAKE MONEY HOWEVER THEY WANT? OR SHOULD WE PAY CLOSER ATTENTION TO THE PACKAGING?
- LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.
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