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Study: same package, same price, less food
Photo: DPA

Study: same package, same price, less food

Published: 29 Mar 2012 17:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Mar 2012 17:46 GMT+02:00

Tricks which make it difficult to compare food prices have been revealed by a German consumer watchdog, showing people can pay up to 50 percent more for the same product depending on which shop they use.

Sweets were the biggest culprit when it came to misleading pricing, said experts at the Hamburg consumer watchdog (VZHH) in a report released this week.

Investigators found a 300 gram bag of Haribo gummi bears on sale for 89 cents in supermarkets Aldi Nord, Kaufland, Lidl, Netto, Penny and Real.

Yet in the more up-market Rewe and Edeka shops, the same price was being charged for 200 gram bags of the sweets – amounting to a 50 percent price difference per bear.

The watchdog compared 18 branded products being sold at 10 different outlets.

“The retail and food industry are deliberately making it difficult for customers to get a clear picture of the price of a product,” said the watchdog’s food expert Armin Valet.

He said that big-name manufactures were putting different amounts of food in the same size packet – and simply changing the printed weight; often ending in big profits for the company and lighter wallet for the customer.

The dairy aisle was not safe either as investigators found some shops had €1.99 nets of Babybel cheeses which contained six cheeses, while other shops had nets with seven cheeses for the same price. This amounts to a price difference of 17 percent.

“Price difference is hard to figure out,” said Valet. “As there is often very little difference in the way a product looks, carrying out direct checks between retailers isn’t possible for most customers.”

To confuse things further, some supermarkets even chose to change the price slightly, so it seems like the customer is getting a better deal.

For instance, a 345 gram bag of “Nimm 2” sweets was priced at €1.99 at Aldi Nord. At the smaller retailer, Sky, a 240 gram bag was on sale for €1.95 – a lower price, despite the sweets being 40 percent more expensive.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

22:25 March 29, 2012 by Larry Thrash
Kind of like government, same package, more taxes, less services.
01:36 March 30, 2012 by hanskarl
This is typical retail. The key operand in the article is "up-market". To have extra services and meet a certain level of customers demands "up-markets" employ more worker. This compared to an Aldi and you have to make up the difference somewhere and this is how the markets handle it. You pay more for more and better services. "Let the buyer beware" along with personal responsibility.
07:26 March 30, 2012 by wood artist
Although it wouldn't change this issue, I'm curious.

Does Germany require unit pricing on the shelf? In the US, the shelf displays the package price...say $2.00, and then it must also say the unit price...such as $ .12 per ounce. The point is that you can compare the unit price to see if the bigger package is a better buy. Often times it isn't, although people usually assume the bigger package should be a lower unit price. It also allows you to easily compare different brands.

Later, however, retailers are carrying different sizes. The old, common "half gallon" of ice cream still appears to be the same price, but it's not a full "half gallon." The container appears similar enough that a lot of people don't notice...so it's similar to the situation described here.

wa
11:09 March 30, 2012 by elboertjie
@wood artist,

I am not sure if it officially required to have unit pricing, but a lot of shops provide this.

Another thing that companies do is to hide inflation rises by manipulating their products. For example, they reduce the quality of the product, lesser quality ingredients, less cookies in package or smaller packages.

This is part and parcel as to why governments state (lie) that CPI is so low, because it is manipulated and of course, most of us follow their lies and thus keep supporting their inflationary actions such as printing more money.
15:32 March 30, 2012 by catjones
I think everything in germany should never change. Architecture, gas prices, cookies/per box, ingredients, you name it...no change. Oh, and I did a comparison of McDonalds fries. One box had 33 and another had 35 and they charged the same price! What's with that?
08:58 March 31, 2012 by HerLinder
What is your point, catjones?

are you making a mockery of legitimate concerns that people have?

why do you feel the need to mock others?
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