As an eight-year-old, I remember the sense of excitement when my dad came back from a business trip to Switzerland with the largest Toblerone I’d ever seen, recalls Michael Bennett, managing director of specialist food and drink PR agency Pelican Communications.
Mondelez said last week, that the move was down to a rise in the cost of ingredients. It has resulted in the triangles being spaced out and the weight of its 400g bars being reduced to 360g and the 170g bars to 150g, while the size of the packaging has remained the same.
The US confectionery giant is not alone. Birds Eye is reported to be considering cutting the number of fish fingers in a pack – for example from 12 to 10 or 20 to 18. Other brands are sure to be thinking along the same lines.
The weaker pound has already increased the cost of many of the food industry’s input costs. Apart from the obvious impact this will have on food prices, it’s also going to affect pack sizes, and could create major reputational issues for brands.
This is not a new phenomenon, consumer group Which? highlighted the trend earlier this year claiming that many supermarket items such as toilet rolls, chocolate biscuits and orange juice had shrunk in size while their price was unchanged.
Which? researchers found that Andrex had cut the number of sheets on its standard toilet rolls from 240 to 221 sheets – an 8% fall. The price had remained roughly £2 for four rolls. McVitie’s dark chocolate digestive biscuits had dropped from 332g to 300g, a reduction of more than 10%, and the Tesco price had risen from £1.59 to £1.69 afterwards. Whilst Tropicana Creations Pure Premium orange and raspberry juice decreased from 1 litre to 850ml, a 15% reduction, yet it had remained at £2.48 in Asda.
Already rising input costs will see more and more brands looking reformulate their packs. The likely effect is that consumers will feel short-changed and will become less brand loyal.
Savvy brands need to make sure any changes are communicated openly and honestly, or even better, maintain brand integrity and concentrate on convincing consumers that their products are worth the extra cash.
Pelican Communications are specialists in the environment, food and drink, outdoor and leisure and packaging sectors and offer a range of services such as media relations, brand management, event management and people development. Contact us for marketing and communications expertise.