Festive shrinkflation: tricks used by chocolate makers to make us pay more | Consumer affairs

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gValue for money might not be your main goal when shopping for Christmas gifts, but if you are thinking of buying chocolates or candies for the ones you love, it is worth checking out what. you are going to get your money’s worth. That fancy box or jar can come at a cost (financial and environmental) – and, contrary to appearances, that can mean less treats for the recipient, not more.

We’ve all heard of “shrinkflation,” where companies squeeze through price increases by reducing the size of packaging, but when it comes to festive candy, it’s important to be careful with others. packaging tricks that manufacturers and retailers maybe hope we won’t notice. .

At Marks & Spencer, for example, going from a bag to a box of fruit jellies means downsizing – despite the latter’s much higher price tag – as one Guardian Money reader who made contact was shocked to find out. . At a London branch of the street retailer, a 200g bag of fruit jellies sells for £ 1.20, while a box containing 180g of the identical-looking candy, bearing the Jelly Fruits name, is on sale at £ 2.60. For 100g the candy in the bag costs 60p and in the box £ 1.40.

Unit prices are shown on the shelves but from the outside it is not obvious that you are buying a box with a small bag inside. The box costs £ 1.52 after taking into account the price difference and the 10% less candy.

Pricing quirks and the cost of excess packaging are always worth considering, especially around Christmas and Easter when manufacturers invent new ways to showcase their products.

This year, the Mars’s Celebrations brand is available in a new ‘centerpiece’ box, which contains 385g of candy. It typically sells for £ 1 more than a sachet weighing 370g, and at the same price – or more – than a plastic jar weighing 650g. At Tesco, for example, the wallet is priced at £ 3.50, or £ 2.50 for Club card holders, the centerpiece box at £ 5 or £ 4 for Club card holders and the £ 4 plastic jar. Respectively, that’s a cost per 100g of 95p (or 67.5p with a Club card), £ 1.30 (or £ 1) and 62p.

This is a gap that has not gone unnoticed by online shoppers. On the Ocado website, the centerpiece box gets a star, although at the time of writing it has been reduced from £ 5 to £ 3.50. The last buyer, who posted on Tuesday, complained that he “paid the price of a big box for a very small one.”

Ele Clark, editor-in-chief of the Which? Consumer group, says: “Although prices inevitably differ from supermarket to supermarket, shoppers may be less aware that the price per 100g of a branded product can also vary wildly within a store, depending on whether only the size of the packaging but also the type of packaging.

“Some options will offer much worse value for money than others, so watch the prices per 100g – and don’t assume you’re getting a good deal just because the item is on offer.”

Helen Bird of the Wrap Waste Reduction Charity explains that while presentation “can be an important part of the gift experience,” it often means more wrapping.

If you try to choose between different packaging based on their environmental impact, she says, “Generally, the longer we use things, the better for the environment. Some packaging is designed to be reused, such as novelty boxes. But another general rule of thumb is that the heavier the packaging, the more resources it uses and the more fuel it consumes for transportation. So if we’re not going to reuse something, a lighter pack may be better. “

Mars Wrigley, which makes Celebrations, reduced the plastic in its pouches by 19% this year. He says the pricing of his products is at the discretion of the retailer.

A spokesperson said: “At Mars Wrigley our goal is always to ensure that we deliver our high quality, delicious tasting chocolate at the best value for money. We have a range of Celebrations treats on sale this Christmas which, while available in different sizes, formats and prices for all occasions, offer great value to the UK public this holiday season.

Bird says that after the packaging is complete, it’s important to recycle as much as possible.

“Most packaging can now be recycled at home, but paper or cardboard that contains glitter should not be recycled, so it’s also best to avoid buying it. Plastic bags, wrappers and pouches are generally not recyclable in the home, but several supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and The Co-op, offer recycling collection points in their stores as part of their efforts to reach out to them. UK Plastics Pact targets for all plastic packaging to be recyclable by 2025. You can find out what and where to recycle at www.recyclenow.com. “

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