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CHOICE unwraps industry push to hide shrinking packs

CHOICE says consumers rely on quantity information on the front of food products and it shouldn’t be removed

12 September 2014

With some food companies having big appetites for reducing the size of products without reducing the price, CHOICE is calling on domestic and international policy makers not to remove vital information that allows consumers to be able to quickly see the quantity of a product on the front of food packaging.

CHOICE's call comes in response to a proposal by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) to remove the requirement for Australian packaged food products to display quantity information on the front of pack. [1].

"Whether it is getting less joy from our chocolate bars or not so saucy pasta pots, some food companies look to pump profits by reducing portion sizes while maintaining the same price and package size," said CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

"Quantity statements allow consumers to quickly see what they're paying for, such as 1.25 litres of lemonade or 220 grams of chocolate."

Last year Cadbury was caught out promoting 10% more joy when they increased their 200 gram block to 220 grams, even though it was originally a much more joyful 250 grams.

"The industry proposal to hide the quantity information on the back of pack is particularly concerning given consumers' reliance on the information."

New research released by CHOICE today shows nearly three quarters of Australian consumers want to continue to see how much they're getting on the front of packages. The national survey of over 3000 adults found 74 per cent considered it important that quantity information is shown on the front label.

"It's simply incorrect for industry groups to claim consumers do not care where the quantity statement is located," says Mr Godfrey.

"These are very important results because they come at a time when industry groups are lobbying policy makers to hide this information on the back label."

Currently Australian weights and measure laws, and an international recommendation that Australia has signed on to,, require that quantity statements are located on the front label of packages, where it is easy for consumers to notice, read and compare figures.

"It's important to know what you're paying for – we've seen plenty of examples in the past where companies have quietly shrunk the size of products but not the price."

"Front-of-pack quantity statements allow consumers to quickly glance at a range of products on the supermarket shelf and make a judgement about value."

About the survey

Participants were asked:

"How important is it to you that the quantity (e.g. 725g on a packet of breakfast cereal or 1.25 litres on a bottle of lemonade) is shown on the front of the food or drink packet, not the back?"

Age group Total
18-29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50-59 years 60+ years
Response Percent of respondents
Very important 41.1 35.0 41.7 42.7 43.5 41.0
Somewhat important 32.7 38.6 33.5 31.3 30.8 33.2
Neither important nor unimportant 20.2 17.9 18.7 19.4 20.1 19.3
Somewhat unimportant 4.1 4.5 3.7 3.3 2.5 3.5
Very unimportant 2.0 4.0 2.5 3.3 3.1 2.9
TOTAL 100 (n=660) 100 (n=554) 100 (n=571) 100 (n=520) 100 (n=798) 100 (n=3103)

Sample of N=3,104 people aged 18+. The online study was conducted by IPSOS on behalf of CHOICE from 16 June to 1 July 2014. The results have been weighted to be representative of Australian population (age, gender, and location)

[1] See AFGC submission to the Commission of Audit. p. 11 and

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