Which? claimed some manufacturers and retailers were cutting the pack sizes of food and drink products, while maintaining or even raising their prices.
Which? editor Richard Headland said: “Shrinking products can be a sneaky way of increasing prices. We want manufacturers and supermarkets to be upfront about shrinking products so consumers aren’t misled.”
‘Costs can be volatile’
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) denied manufacturers were lifting prices. “Food and drink pricing always reflects the economic climate of the day, whether that’s the impact of changing utility prices or ingredient costs which can be volatile,” an FDF spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“Businesses seek to offset these costs wherever possible through improvements in efficiency and productivity. These actions can only go so far and in some cases companies will reduce the pack size rather than increasing the price for consumers.”
The British Retail Consortium told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Sizing and pricing of products are regularly reviewed and were impacted by a number of factors.
‘Sizing and pricing’
“These include the cost of raw materials, commercial negotiations with manufacturers and changing portion sizes which form part of industry efforts to help tackle obesity.”
Manufacturers PepsiCo and United Biscuits were both named in the Which? report. Both were said to have cut package size and raised the price of some products. PepsiCo's response to Which? was that it “strives to produce competitively-priced products”.
A United Biscuits spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Our new pack size on McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives means we can offer consumers an ongoing lower price, together with more promotions, providing them with better value throughout the year.”
Which? contacted a range of food and drink manufacturers to ask why prices had increased, but most said that it was up to the supermarkets to set the price, according to the pressure group.
Read more about Which?’s claims here.
Which? list of “shrinking” food products
- McVitie’s Digestives dark chocolate biscuits: cut from 332g to 300g, a 10% reduction
- Tropicana Creations Pure Premium Orange & Raspberry juice: cut from 1 litre to 850ml, a 15% reduction
- Percol Fairtrade Guatemala Coffee: cut from 227g to 200g, a 12% reduction