/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Is this new packaging taking the biscuit?

McVitie's biscuits

Packaging can be a key ingredient in influencing what we buy. But as our guest author and community member Roger Pittock explains, some packaging redesigns can really take the biscuit.

Have you noticed a detrimental change to how McVitie’s Biscuits are wrapped of late?

It was only after two packs fell from my cupboard within a few weeks of one another (whereas none had in the previous 20 years) that I realised the packaging had changed. And from a consumer perspective I think it’s for the worse.

Poor packaging

Cheddar biscuits

Old heat-staked packaging

Historically McVitie’s Digestives (and countless other biscuits by several manufacturers) have been sold in cylindrical packaging, with the ends neatly and tautly dressed and glued (or heat-staked) down.

This time-honoured approach provides for easy storage on end without fear of an accidental topple. It also allows for an easy opening with a knife cut laterally between biscuits, either half way down or a couple from one end.

About six months ago, McVitie’s biscuits appeared on the shelves with slack packaging and ends squeezed together in a crimp. They call it Flow Wrap Packaging.

That’s a bad wrap

Flow wrap biscuits

New Flow Wrap packaging

Ignoring the cost of new machinery, this new method probably saves money or time. However, I wonder how much additional breakage this style of packaging creates in the home due to toppling, and how much additional frustration is incurred in opening the biscuits?

I’ve found that it’s no longer safe to stand these on end as the crimp has a habit of springing to life even after flattening, precipitating a topple.

Furthermore, using a knife to open the biscuits no longer readily produces a clean cut. This new style wrap is no longer taut and the plastic cylindrical sleeve indents, caressing the blade and making it substantially more difficult to produce a clean cut.

After a brief check on shelves I spotted that some own brands (Tesco is one) have also adopted this clumsy packaging method too. Whereas others (Sainsbury’s) and other major brands (Jacobs) maintain the traditional packaging, which I find far more accessible.

So, I would like to know if anyone else experienced these issues; have you spotted any packaging changes, or difficult to open packages?

This is a guest contribution by Roger Pittock. All opinions are Roger’s own, not necessarily those of Which?


Is it just me or could the new style of packaging be designed to make the packet look bigger than it is….?

Reading these comments has just cheered me up after yet another nuisance call!

Sorry can’t add anything to biscuit packaging as I, fortunately, do not have a sweet tooth so any visitors please bring your own.

I have invested £1 in a 300 g packet of McVities chocolate digestives and confirmed that there is no way that the pack will stand on end, but it is now standing to attention in a mug.

Maybe there is a manufacturing opportunity for custom designed pottery stands and with no requirement to be waterproof, glazing is unnecessary. Of course, unglazed pottery is referred to as ‘biscuit’.

I notice that McVities Rich Tea biscuits are still available in the traditional tight wrapping.

I don’t eat many biscuits but have always found Digestives very mealy in texture and taste. The harder baked Rich Tea are my preference with an afternoon cuppa.

Being a newcomer today to this sort of on- line debate I have spent an hour of my Saturday morning chuckling at people’s views on headlight failures and now biscuits ……..John Ward made me laugh when he deviated somewhat from the McVities debate and went into generalisms about all packaging. His arsenal of opening implements was impressive and almost matched mine!
Though l don’t believe John mentioned the other useful easy access tool , that being one’s teeth . Good for plastic milk bottles where grip is an issue.
HEALTH WARNING ……The loss of half a tooth on a bottle of Tippex resulted in a trip to dentist with half a tooth broken off .
I am sure they have done something to plastic these days because it is absolutely impossible to tear apart with one’s own strength (and l used to be a discus thrower So have a modicum of residual strength left after my previous life.)
– Just a hobby! l do have other more normal interests.
I will share one or two packaging views that I have too.
Bleach bottles are the good neighbourly concern of next door, probably owing to the aforesaid discus throwing affecting my ageing thumb joint… One has to push down with so much strength and twist at the same time…..Sounds simple but isn’t .
Mention has been made of plastic milk bottles but as soon as I get mine delivered to my front door l decant it into a well rinsed , sterilised and re-cycled glass bottle…. and freeze the rest. Reason – I do not like the idea of my drinks sitting in plastic for any length of time – to me it is purely a chemical which could possibly leach out into my milk. I do this with cordials , and anything else such as my oils – extra-virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil, ground nut oil, and I now have an impressively labelled larder shelf displaying such bottles.
Not sure if my post here is too long , but as a first day novice I have yet to learn ..I am sure someone will tell me !

Hi Cool Girl – Stick around and if you can cope with a growing bunch of people who delight in complaining you will be informed and occasionally entertained. I won’t forget John’s ‘Chocolate Aggressives’.

Having left teeth marks in many Tipp-Ex bottle tops, I think you must have been very unlucky. 🙁

Oh,,,,,,,,some of us just love to complain,,,,,,,,,,

Cool Girl if that’s your sense of humour you’ll do me……….Yes stick around…………There’s plenty go around

I spent half an hour trawling through Google results looking for complaints on the new Digestives packaging and was astounded that there is so little talk on the matter. Look, people, this is a National Emergency. We need to mobilise – now, before it’s too late. Someone needs to get this onto Newsnight or something. Our children simply cannot grow up in a world without proper Digestives, in their rightful packaging. Anyone know an MP or something? This matter needs raising in The House.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Shandy Jaikaran says:
7 February 2019

Who thought It’s a clever idea to change the packaging seal on the McVitie’s chocolate digestive biscuits. The amount of times I opened the cupboard and the packet of biscuit falls into my cup of coffee, knocks the cup down or hits the cup and spills the drink in it, it falls in anything below the cupboard.and all because the end of the packet hasn’t got s flat a**e! Revert to the original wrapping please and please give a reason why everyone agreed to that form of packaging!!🙄

I am curious to know how a**el merits the profanity filter.

Are these the 2 types of packaging you are referring to Shandy?

Not everyone has loads of space to lie things flat so the lower one definitely takes up a larger area in a cupboard. The packaging also contains more air as the biscuits are not tightly packed like the top packet giving the illusion of more biscuits.

Romeo Sierra?

If the biscuits fall into the coffee, that’s auto-dunking. My solution is to stand the packet in a mug.

Given their calorific value, I would imagine that biscuits in air will have the potential to be highly flammable. Hence, to control fire hazards, home owners should consider the need to keep biscuits in metal or metal backed containers. A cylindrical or “barrel shaped” one would be ideal for round biscuits.

A greater danger is that biscuits in air will go soft. 🙂

..not if I’m around 😀

wavechange said:Today 11:33

A greater danger is that biscuits in air will go soft.

ISTR that’s the definition of biscuit, while cake is the opposite. One goes soft in air, the other hardens.

:-). I was focusing on theory not practice.

I can keep heavy fruit cake for months because it can improve with cooking. In fact I’m just enjoying the last piece of one I made nearly three months ago.

Which is why a jaffa cake is a cake not a biscuit. 😉

There was a debate about this because no VAT is payable on chocolate-covered cakes, yet it is on chocolate biscuits. It annoys me that the McVities ones don’t show the weight on the packet and the company told me that this is because the weight can vary. Other manufacturers of Jaffa cakes manage to put the weight on their packets. Maybe something that Which? could get their teeth into.

Never let opening a round packet of biscuits defeat you. Armed with a sharp knife simply slice straight down the middle, horizontally preferably! Result, two separate halves with open tops and no fight which usually ends up with a the top biscuit in the packet in pieces anyway……….. crumbs!

I think this issue has never come to my attention because biscuits don’t last in my house long enough to fall out of shelves.

You would think they would know better than to mess with people’s biscuits.

I too have a problem with poor durability of biscuits. When I was younger I used to bake rather than buy them but have not made any since before Christmas.

Poor durability of biscuits. I’m going to have use that description!

Lizzie says:
23 May 2019

The problem with the new packaging for digestives was brought up by Brian May on The One Show last week. (Yes, THAT Brian May.) I have a metal biscuit tin (bought in the 1970’s) that looks like a pack of digestives and the new package fits beautifully in there.

Cathie says:
9 October 2019

I was merely googling to find out how to open the mcvities digestives. I may be too literal, but the little instruction says “tear here” and i would like to do so, but what am i supposed to pull to initiate a tear? I have picked at it previously and there is an interesting red strip in there, but it has no access point and does not circumvent the biscuit tube. I will knife it as you have suggested and support the cylinder in a mug. Misleading to say the least.