Chocolate lovers face more 'shrinkflation' to add to Toblerone outrage

Price of cocoa butter and other milk chocolate ingredients has jumped almost 40 per cent this year

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The Independent Online

The public outcry that recently greeted the shrunken Toblerone may be about to reach fever pitch, as a host of other famous chocolate brands could be forced to downsize.

The confectionery industry has a history of “shrinkflation”, where prices remain the same as portion sizes get smaller but conditions this year have put particular pressure on chocolatiers.

Mondelez International, the US company that makes the iconic triangular bar, said it was forced to make the unenviable decision between increasing the price or the size of the gaps in its bars.

A helpful “milk chocolate index” from analysts at Mintec shows the combined price key ingredients cocoa butter, cocoa powder, whey, sugar and whole milk powder, is up almost 30 per cent this year.

Cocoa butter has fared particularly poorly, as bad weather in producer countries has combined with a rise in global demand for a chocolate fix, causing prices to jump almost 40 per cent in 2016, adding to steady increases over the past four years. 

During that time, a six-pack of Creme Eggs became five, Mars and Snickers shrank and a one kilogram tin of Quality Street lost 180g. 

There have been signs that the market has stabilised over the past week as more cocoa beans have become available but margins are expected to remain tight.

Carlos Mera, analyst at Rabobank told The Financial Times: “People are expecting a large surplus year and the weather has been very good,” adding that the bank forecasts a 218,000 tonne surplus in 2017, the most since 2011.

Analysts have warned consumers not to expect bars to return to their former glory, however. “You won’t see companies reversing the shrinkages they’ve made to their products,” says Jack Skelly of Euromonitor.

Chocolate isn’t the only popular foodstuff to suffer from shrinking portions. This week, Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe was forced to admit his supermarket had slimmed down its bacon rashers, although he refused to admit Brexit was to blame.

“It may well be that we’ve decided that from a customer point of view, slicing our bacon thinner is a good thing,” he told the Today programme.