Retailers 'trick shoppers with misleading packaging'

Tricks include "reduced fat" options that aren't healthier and combo deals that work out pricier

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Young man in supermarket comparing bottles of oil, rear view, close-up

Retailers are using potentially misleading packaging "tricks" to tempt shoppers into buying products they would not otherwise choose, a consumer group has warned.

Which? highlighted tactics used by supermarkets and manufacturers to tempt customers, from "rip-off" gift sets to own-brand labels using copycat packaging.

It asked 7,855 Which? members to report any concerns about packaging and examined hundreds of products in shops and online.

It found poor-value gift sets that could mean buyers were effectively paying several pounds for the packaging, "light" or "reduced fat" products that were not always healthy and copycat packaging that could lead shoppers to mistake own-brand products for brands.

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It also raised concerns about reference intake (RI) information on salt, sugar, fat and saturated fat based on a portion size smaller than most people would eat, excess packaging to make it look like shoppers were getting more, and no price per kilo on packaged fruit.

The watchdog found a Lynx gift set costing £6.50 containing a deodorant that normally costs £3 and a £2 shower gel.

At the time of the investigation, both products were on offer, making the gift set an even worse deal.

It removed the brand names from McVitie's and Lidl ginger biscuits and asked Which? members to identify which was which, finding that 39% named the Lidl version as the brand instead of McVitie's.

Among examples of inaccurate labelling, it found so-called "light" digestives that contained 4.5g more sugar per 100g than the standard biscuits and fruit juices whose title ingredients - such as blueberry and blackcurrant - were insignificant in amount compared to cheaper ingredients such as apple and orange.

Which? editor Richard Headland said: "We've found packaging tactics across the supermarkets that run the risk of misleading customers.

"Supermarkets and manufacturers need to play fair to avoid confusing consumers.

"We're campaigning for simple food pricing to make it easy for consumers to compare products and find the best deal."

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