Monday 5 December 2016

Shrinking Toblerone 'is not because of Brexit' - maker

Published 09/11/2016 | 02:30

US food manufacturer Mondelez says they have spaced out the triangles in Toblerone bars because of the rising cost of ingredients, not because of Brexit Picture: Reuters
US food manufacturer Mondelez says they have spaced out the triangles in Toblerone bars because of the rising cost of ingredients, not because of Brexit Picture: Reuters

Toblerone is shrinking. The maker of the chunky chocolate treat - the sixth biggest brand here at Christmas - has said it is reducing the scale of some of its bars in both Ireland and Britain, while retaining the recommended retail price.

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Consumers here already face the prospect that beloved brands like Lyons Tea, HB, Ben & Jerry's and Pot Noodle could disappear from some supermarket shelves because of a Brexit-related pricing row involving international supplier Unilever.

US food manufacturer Mondelez, which makes the triangular chocolate bar, stresses its problems aren't related to Brexit, but are linked to the rising cost of ingredients.

"We carry these costs for as long as possible, but to ensure Toblerone remains on-shelf, is affordable and retains the iconic shape we all know and love, we have had to reduce the weight of this particular bar," the company said.

In Ireland and Britain, the 400g Toblerone bar is being reduced in size to 360g by spacing the triangular chocolate peaks out more widely.

In the UK, the smaller 170g bar is being cut to 150g, but that's not happening here.

Despite the official denials, chocolate lovers have blamed the Brexit-induced plunge in the pound for the reduced size, with John Prescott, a former deputy prime minister, tweeting that the referendum was behind the move.

It's not clear whether any other markets are affected.

Retail experts here see the potential for further issues around the supply of popular grocery products in the coming months because of the deep supply chain links between the UK and Ireland.

Tom Burke, director of Retail Ireland, said UK-based suppliers are taking measures to offset their high costs, and are passing those measures through the supply chain to Ireland.

"There is concern amongst our members in terms of the inevitable squeeze that we see coming on the retail sector in Ireland between UK-based suppliers who have certain expectations on one side, because of their increasing cost base, and they're trying to pass that through the chain, and here domestically, where there's a huge emphasis on price and where we can see some price reduction given the move on sterling," Mr Burke said.

A spokesman for Mondelez in Ireland said the recommended retail price for the 360g bar here is €6.50, but he said it is up to each retailer to set the price.

Consumers in Britain took to social media to vent their fury at the move.

"This must be up there with the dumbest corporate decisions of all time," one Toblerone customer posted.

"You have a somewhat premium chocolate bar which is very well known for its distinctive shape, and to save money you change the shape? Now you have a premium-priced product that looks like a weird knock-off of itself."

Academics at the University of East Anglia said the Toblerone move is the latest example of 'shrinkflation'.

"The new gappy-teeth Toblerone is yet another example of shrinkflation, where shrinking pack contents allows for a backdoor price rise," said Ratula Chakraborty, a senior lecturer in retailing.

Irish Independent

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