Big-name brands cut product size... but not cost

Caroline Cassidy

With the cost of living soaring by the day, most shoppers are looking for value for money when they hit the supermarket and finding your favourite products have not succumbed to the seemingly inevitable price rises can be comforting. But according to new research, some of Britain's best-loved brands aren't quite what they used to be.

Big-name brand price rises
Big-name brand price rises

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A survey found that though many products, from soap to cider to frozen peas, have indeed stayed the same price, shoppers are not getting the same amount.

For instance, the number of Pampers baby wipes in a pack has dropped from 63 to 56 (a reduction of 11.1 per cent), you'll now only get 15 cans of Strongbow cider where you once got 18 for the same price, and that pack of Birds Eye frozen peas is no longer 907g but 800g.

Consumer experts have slammed manufacturers over these "stealth price rises" and described the method as "underhanded".

Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? magazine, told the Daily Mail: "We think this is an underhand way of raising prices. If the price doesn't change and the packaging looks identical, consumers are going to believe they're buying the same thing."

Procter & Gamble, the company behind Pampers, defended its decision to reduce number of wipes in a pack. A spokesman said: "Spot prices for P&G's key materials and energy inputs are up more than 20 per cent versus last year's levels.

"We have, wherever possible, tried to absorb these increased costs. In this instance, the adjustment has been made by reducing the volume of the pack."

Innocent took a similar stance. Co-founder Richard Reed explained: "We made our new environmentally-friendly carafe 900ml rather than a litre as this meant that despite ingredient cost increases we could continue to use only the highest quality fruit."

However, loyal customers may not see things quite so clearly.

A spokesman for Consumer Focus said: "Consumers understand that the cost of raw materials is increasing rapidly but they would also like companies to be upfront.

"As a tactic, shrinking size but not price won't go down well among savvy customers who may become inclined to be less loyal to their favourite brands."

So if you're wondering why your weekly shop doesn't go quite as far as it used to, it's worth checking your favourites a little more closely.

What do you think? Are big-name brands being "underhanded" and will you be switching brands as a result? Leave your comments below...