Claims in Spades: Deceptive packaging to disguise price increase


claims in spadesMisleading packaging to hide the price increase

Haribo sells fewer young animals; Picked up less margarine. Consumer advocates in Germany are alarmed. The phenomenon is also gaining in importance in Switzerland.

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Unrest about Haribo.

Photo: imago images/CHROME RANGE

The confectionery manufacturer puts eleven fewer bears in the bag because of the increase in Germany.

The confectionery manufacturer puts eleven fewer bears in the bag because of the increase in Germany.

Photo: Reuters

In Germany, food manufacturer Upfield's Rama margarine is now available in 400 grams instead of 500 grams, but in the same large can.

In Germany, food manufacturer Upfield’s Rama margarine is now available in 400 grams instead of 500 grams, but in the same large can.

Photo: imago images/Manfred Segerer

Food manufacturers want to pass on their higher production costs to customers. If prices don’t go up, you need to watch the weight. In Germany, for example, the confectionery giant Haribo will pack eleven fewer bears in its packaging in the future.

The 200 gram bag now weighs just 175 grams, more than 10% less. On the other hand, the company wants to keep the price at 99 cents and not exceed the threshold of one euro, as the writes “Picture”.

In Switzerland, Haribo is not reducing the content, but has already changed the price. Specifically, the company has increased the price recommendation for dealers and traders, a spokesman for the group confirms. It doesn’t say how much more they have to pay. According to Coop, some Haribo sweets cost between 4% and 8% more.

“Like all companies, Haribo is in great demand in the current situation,” explains the spokesman for the confectionery giant. The costs for ingredients, but also for packaging material, logistics and energy have increased to unprecedented proportions in recent months. “So we decided to pass on some of that cost.”

Still praise

Still, consumer advocates praise Haribo for not only reducing the contents but also the size of the bag, rather than just blowing more air into it. That makes things a little more transparent. Customers could thus better perceive the reduction in the filling quantity.

In fact, many manufacturers skimp on content while maintaining price and packaging. In Germany, the margarine manufacturer Upfield only fills the Rama jar with 400 instead of 500 grams. Upfield has also reduced the contents of its Sanella, Lätta and Becel brands. Critics from consumer groups have skyrocketed.

“This is called ‘shrinkflation’ (contraction between shrinkage and inflation),” explains course monitor Stefan Meierhans. In other words, inflation from content shrinkage. Consumer advocates in Germany are currently registering a record number of complaints about so-called misleading packaging. Expect more reports in the fall and winter.

Many users also post examples on Twitter under the hashtag shrinkflation.

According to the Price Monitor, inflation is a key driver of this phenomenon. Even if, at 3.4%, it is not as widespread in Switzerland as it is in Germany or the USA, where the rate is almost 10%. In Switzerland there are still few denunciations of “shrinkflation” cases, specifies Stefan Meierhans.

However, the price monitor notes that many beverage manufacturers in Switzerland have already reduced the bottle size to 0.45 litres. “We customers have the power to fall back on alternatives under such conditions, and we should do that!” advises Stefan Meierhans.

The German Consumer Foundation confirms that manufacturers save on content, especially abroad. However, nothing seems to say it will stay that way. “It is currently to be expected that many manufacturers will resort to this trick,” says André Bähler, head of business and politics for consumer protection.

How do you recognize “shrinkflation”?

Since the prices are no longer displayed on the products but on the shelves, it is more difficult for customers to understand price changes, according to the German-speaking Consumer Foundation. One clue would be the new packaging design. Manufacturers often took the opportunity to increase the price or reduce capacity. It’s not illegal as long as they don’t disguise the quantity of a product.

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