One of the oldest tricks in the inflationary book - shrinking the contents while keeping the size the same - has struck chocolate lovers in the UK's today, where Toblerone fans are crying foul after its maker announced the chocolate bar's shape and weight are changing to keep costs down.
Mondelez reduced the weight of a version of Toblerone sold to British discounter Poundland to 150 grams from 170 grams by spacing its triangular chocolate peaks out more widely. Another altered version, lightened to 360 grams from 400 grams, is sold in stores other than Poundland, a Toblerone spokeswoman said. The maker kept the packaging and the price of the reduced product the same in an attempt to mask what is effectively a ~10% increase in price.
In a Facebook statement, Toblerone said: "We always work hard to ensure we offer value for money for our consumers, but like many other companies, unfortunately we are experiencing higher costs for many ingredients," the Toblerone spokeswoman said."
We carry these costs for as long as possible, but to ensure Toblerone remains on-shelf, is affordable and retains the triangular shape, we have had to reduce the weight of just two of our bars in the UK, from the wider range of available Toblerone products.
The scaled-down version was prompted by higher commodity prices and had nothing to do with the British pound's plunge in value since Britons voted in June to exit the European Union, manufacturer Mondelez International. Milk prices have also started to rise, boosted by a pick-up in demand and tighter supplies in the EU. Cocoa prices have been weaker this year but remain comparatively high after hitting a more than four-year peak late last year.
Mondelez exports Toblerone to 120 countries from a Swiss plant in Bern. Its main sales channel is duty-free outlets. Furthermore, with the ongoing decline in sterling, more shrinking may lay in store. The candy maker joines other multinationals such as Unilever, which was the first to move with an attempt to impose 10% rises on a host of big brands like savory spread Marmite, Pot Noodle and Magnum ice cream last month, triggering a dispute with supermarket group Tesco. A bag of Britain's biggest-selling potato chips is set to rise by 10 percent after maker Walkers said this week the sterling slump had pushed up manufacturing costs.
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Meanwhile, as Reuters put it, a vocal "Tobler-moan" broke out on social media in Britain as it was the third case in a month in which UK brands have taken steps, including big price hikes, to offset higher costs for their products in the wake of the Brexit vote.
"This must be up there with the dumbest corporate decisions of all time," Toblerone customer Michal Tat 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....Shame on you, Mondelez."
"It's not as if people eat Toblerone every day. You could literally double the price and people would still buy it. Fools," posted Nicholas Barker.
Writing on Facebook, Alex Barrett questioned why the company had not put up a picture of the new bar.
"I suspect not because you know full well it looks wrong," he said. "It's not aesthetically pleasing and it no longer looks like a premium product."
Dan Rickwood posted: "Hi Toblerone, I am one of your biggest fans and love your chocolate, but I bought a 150g Toblerone earlier only to be left upset, disappointed and a little distressed!
"In fact I felt cheated a tad in the way that they are now spaced out so much losing out on Toblerone goodness, I'm upset Toblerone I'm sorry but I really am."
Rachel Yates had a tip for fellow Toblerone enthusiasts: "If I can't have the iconic chunky triangles I'll buy the budget supermarket version. Tastes the same and is cheaper. Think you've just scored a home goal Toblerone."
Some loyal customers are even urging a boycott until the company has a change of heart.
Mondelez, which also owns Cadbury, was criticised in recent years for changing much-loved products such as Creme Eggs and Dairy Milk bars. Walkers crisps and Birds Eye also revealed price rises last week, blaming the falling value of the pound for making the import of raw materials more expensive.