/ Food & Drink

Will the Toblerone change leave you with a sour taste this Christmas?

Toblerone

Toblerone has become the latest product to suffer shrinkage by its manufacturer in a bid to save the pennies. But do you feel short-changed?

Bar humbug! For chocoholics, Christmas 2016 is already shaping up to be a bit, well, miserable.

First came the news that tins of Quality Street would be missing its veteran Toffee Deluxe this year, then Terry’s Chocolate Orange fans noticed that their favourite chocolate stocking filler had shrunk by 18g.

And now that iconic prism-shaped bar of nougat, honey and almond-infused Swiss chocolatey goodness has gone the same way. Yes, I’m talking about Toblerone – the one gift that’s impossible to wrap but will always find its way under the Christmas tree in my household.

Shape changer

Not content with shrinking Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs or changing the shape of Dairy Milk, manufacturers Mondelēz has now interfered with the appearance of Toblerone bars sold in the UK.

You won’t notice it from the size of the packaging – yes, the packaging has stayed the same – but open up what were its 170g and 400g bars and you’ll spot the difference.

In an effort to reduce the weight to 150g and 360g, respectively – a move it puts down to the rising price of ingredients – Mondelēz has increased the space between the triangle chunks dramatically.

And I, like many others who have taken to websites like Reddit, really very much do mind the gap. 

Mondelēz did announce the change on its Facebook page on 15 October, explaining:

‘…Like many other companies, we are experiencing higher costs for numerous ingredients. 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.’

Despite prior notice for its customers to explain its decision to shrink the Toblerone, many consumers have been asking why, if it needed to tweak the weight, it didn’t just make the bar shorter.

Sign of the times?

Although a spokeswoman for Mondelēz acknowledged that the foreign exchange rate against the pound wasn’t currently favourable, she did state that: ‘This change wasn’t done as a result of Brexit’.

But with the Bank Of England warning in September that food retailers would be ‘re-engineering’ products in an effort to maintain pre-Brexit prices and keep ‘highly price-sensitive’ customers happy – not to mention Walkers, Birds Eye and Unilever all raising their prices – I can’t help but wonder whether there will be more changes in shapes, sizes and ingredients of our favourite foods in the not-too-distant future.

So, do you feel that Mondelēz has been Scrooge-like in changing UK-bound bars of Toblerone? What do you think about product changes and price increases?

Comments
Rob C. says:
12 November 2016

Just one more attempt to separate people from their money whilst giving them a BAD deal .I will not be affected as luckily I consume very little of their product, but I believe that a boycott would be a wake up call for the company .

I agree with those saying the company is showing contempt for it’s customers, and think the bar looks ridiculous with the shape change. They could easily have left the shape the same whilst making the bars shorter, and simply marketed them as ‘new size’ Toblerone bars priced at ‘only’ £x.

The shrinkage in the size of everything has been going on long before Brexit, so to try and blame that for it merely tries to pass the buck, and misses the point IMO – which is that the suppliers are trying to bring in changes by stealth, and they all know that if their straight sided cans somehow end up with one end skinnier than the other, their tub of sweets shrinks or gains angles, their chocolate bars or individually packed biscuits suddenly have more packaging than product, or their triangular bar ends up looking like it needs a good orthodontist – the competition are playing the same sneaky game, so there is little to choose from between them in the end.

Big Bad John says:
13 November 2016

The Toblerone business is another example of big business swindles. A few years ago Robinsons reduced their bottles of orange barley water from 1 litre to 850 ml (I think) for the same price without alerting customers to their dirty trick. Yes, I know businesses are there to make profits, but swizzes like the Toblerone example alas seem to be the norm.

Price rises are a fact of life due to rising material costs or greed. But if we don’t complain now about underhand practises by manufacturing companies trying to con us, can you just imagine how much worse it could all get? We may look back on these days in a few years and think what great bargains we were getting now.

Hello everyone, I thought this would be an interesting addition to this discussion – for those of your who will be looking to buy chocolate selection packs soon then you need to keep an eye out for cost as well as weight to compare value for money.

New Which? research compared prices of different sized versions of chocolate box brands and found the pack sizes varied so much that comparing prices was quite difficult. The cheapest boxes tended to be the larger ones and we found that you could pay almost double the price per 100g for smaller packs. More info here: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2016/11/asda-cheapest-for-christmas-chocolate-456429/

jed bailey says:
14 November 2016

Chocolate used to be a luxury product and if lots of customers consider Toblerone an occasional buy, the company could be on dangerous ground. Brand attributes of luxury indulgence and treat don’t live well with meanness , penny-pinching and deceit. This diminishing of the brand allied with physically changing its shape could commercially backfire as the customer is constantly reminded that the procuct is diminished both physically and sentimentally. I would put my money on a period of declining sales of the diminished product followed by a relaunch of “original ” Tobelrone -at a higher price of course.

Richard says:
14 November 2016

Simple answer. Dip your ordinary chocolate in a little honey, close your eyes and chew – problem solved re taste. Re price – simple again – don’t buy it.

Richard Buchanan says:
15 November 2016

Just stop buying the products.

It’s just chocolate. Not very good chocolate at that. In the grand scheme of things, it is just another example of companies wanting to make more profit by ripping off everyone else.

I agree with your opinion of the chocolate, Phil. Why is it, with chocolate, that people think if it’s Swiss or Belgian it is superb? My preference is for Cadbury’s Bournville as the ultimate all-round good chocolate taste and when I want something equally pleasing but continental I buy German or Austrian chocolate.

Do you know if Cadbury’s Bournville is unchanged, John? I have not read any comments about changes in recipe.

If Fry’s ‘Five Boys’ Chocolate Cream is reintroduced, perhaps it will be Three Boys.

I last had some Bournville in the Summer and it seemed just as I remember it. I have switched allegiance to Sainsbury’s chocolate; their dark chocolate fruit & nut bar is fantastic and their dark cocolate peppermint cream bar is utter delight [but hard to find since I mentioned it in a previous Conversation; I think Malcolm bought a container load]. They have a terrific range.

A famous search engine makes it easy to turn up past posts: https://conversation.which.co.uk/food-drink/best-chocolate-bars-supermarket-own-brand-taste-test/#comment-1450398

The Sainsbury’s bars sound more interesting than Toblerone.

John, I still have some left, but they had removed alternate segments because of the increase in world mint prices.

Wavechange – I am impressed that you turned up that previous post from June 2016, and I am astonished that I have been so consistent across the time gap. That chocolate must have made a deep impression.

My impression is that you are very consistent in what you post, John. What I was trying to do was to advertise the facility for putting in links to other posts. The URL for a post is concealed in the date/time in the top right corner.

When we were discussing Creme Eggs I bought one to see what all the fuss was about. A few weeks back I bought a Terry’s Chocolate Orange because of the publicity of the size change, here and elsewhere. My curiosity has not yet been sufficient for me to buy a Toblerone but I now keep noticing the packs.

I would not be surprised if the sales of Toblerone rise this Christmas.

Advertisers use similar tactics Wavechange. The aim is to bring a product into your conscious awareness after which it remains at a subliminal level.

That’s why I more or less stopped watching commercial TV many years ago, Beryl. If there is a programme I want to see I record it and skip through the adverts. I would like to know if there is evidence that annoying customers (e.g. by making packs smaller) and raising awareness is successful in boosting sales.

I always switch over to another channel when the adverts appear when watching commercial TV. Sales will obviously be unaffected as long as the deceipt is hidden from consumers, but would probably decline when people are made aware of it, at least in the short term. Remember chocolate in particular is very addictive which could persuade people to continue to buy long term; yet another consideration when mfrs use shrinkflation tactics in order to conceal price increases.

There are also people who possess exceptionally curious and scientific minds Wavechange who will go to extraordinary lengths to discover the evidence surrounding a particular conjecture 🙂

Unfortunately, many people buy into brands and do their best to encourage others to buy them.

The addictive properties of Toblerone have so far eluded me.

As a matter of interest, what is the correct pronunciation of Toblerone? Is the second ‘e’ silent or pronounced [Italian style]? This is important; I wouldn’t want to make a social faux pas if invited to a second rate diplomat’s reception.

Hi John,

As regards pronunciation, a quick search on youtube found a couple of (hopefully official) adverts which used the boring standard English pronunciation that I’ve always used:

toe blur own

Given the new, very foreign sounding company name now adopted by Kraft, perhaps we should also propose some new revised pronunciations. Here’s my first attempt at a mock-Italian one:

tub lay row nay

I just looked it up in Wikipedia in case that would help. It appears that Toblerone was created by Theodor Tobler in Bern so I thought the correct pronunciation was more likely to be German and Wikipedia gives the german pronunciation as “tobləˈroːnə” – we would say “tobbler-rowner”. However, all is not as it seems because Wkipedia adds a comment on the name : “The product’s name is a portmanteau combining Tobler’s name with the Italian word torrone (a type of nougat).”

I don’t like it so I shall not be asking for it by name; I usually get offered it in Smith’s with a chunk off the price but have always declined. Now there are a few chunks off the contents there’s even more reason to reject it. Poor Theodor Tobler.

You must look on the positive effect of the reduction in weights of Mondelez’s products. They have made some people happy.
“The boss behind the changes to Toblerone Irene Rosenfeld has earned around £100million in the last six years despite cost-saving cuts being made to the company’s products.

Mrs Rosenfeld, 63, from Chicago, in the United States of America, is chief executive of US snack giant Mondelez, the company behind the take-over of Cadbury in 2010.

Currently ranked 32 in Forbes The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in the last six years her salary has maintained a level of between £10million to £25million as well as bonuses, according to filed proxy statements shared online, because of her success turning around the profits for Cadbury.” (Daily Mail online). (Before anyone says, it is quite irrelevant that Viscount Rothermere, owner of the DM, is reportedly valued at £720 million and has frozen his staff’s pay in a cost-saving measure).

A lot of people are amassing great wealth at our expense. 🙁 In the UK, Sir James Dyson has taken us to the cleaners. We don’t need to buy the products, but many do.

Freedom of choice; we all have the capacity to make our own decisions (well, the right to, anyway) “Maybe we had better get back to ‘shrinkflation’. “

The art of persuasion Wavechange. Much has been written on the subject. More info can be found at:
http://www.psychologytoday.com – The Art of Persuasion.

The reporter clearly did not like a majority outcome for an “ill advised and ill informed referendum”. Using Marmite and Toblerone to express her disdain for the UK voters seems to sum up the attitude of her paper. While many of the voters were no doubt ill-informed (as they are in any election) we might assume that many are capable of looking objectively at the situation and making up their minds acccordingly. Uncertainty always affects exchange rates, so the sooner we get on with Article 50 and negotiations the better. Importing less Toblerone will help the balance of payments, and our health. Maybe we will export lots more of our own UK sweeties.

I thought you voted to stay in Europe, Malcolm. Maybe we had better get back to ‘shrinkflation’.

I respect the outcome, wavechange. I pointed out the benefits of importing fewer Toblerones. Personally I regard Chocolate Orange and Toblerone as of no consequence; if you don’t like what they do then don’t buy them. There are far more important matters. But this Convo has entertainment value

Everyone’s feeling a bit down in the dumps
Because Toblerone is missing a few of its humps
The reason, they say, it’s all down to Brexit
Ingredients cost more so we just have to expect it
We all must get used to creeping shrinkflation
That’s taking the place of rising inflation

So next time you purchase another chocolate bar
Make sure it’s one that doesn’t look too bizarre
Pick an alternative that’s not missing some teeth
One that’s more appealing, all regular and neat
But if you are feeling in the mood for a treat
Well, there’s always a nice tin of Quality Street 🙂

Thank you Beryl. That’s nicer than some of the other poetic offering we have seen today.

I expect that the Toblerone Mini will be recorded as a successful marketing campaign.

Thanks Wavechange. After watching today’s WTP semi-final on TV, I think a few Murrymints (the too good to hurry mints) wouldn’t go amiss!

I did not realise Murray Mints still existed. I could live without sweets but not without biscuits. 🙂

Sweeties shrinking, what’s the thinking?
Toblerone, Maltesers, too.
Maltesers tease the question, then:
With shrinkies, how will we get through?