FoodWatch slams ‘scam’ of bigger pack sizes, bigger price

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

FoodWatch slams French 'price scam' / Pic: GettyImages-Goran13
FoodWatch slams French 'price scam' / Pic: GettyImages-Goran13

Related tags: Food prices

Consumer watchdog FoodWatch has uncovered what it describes as a widespread 'scam' of products packed in larger sizes actually costing more per kilo.

‘Family sized’ and big batched foods have the reputation of being cheaper than their conventional counterparts. However, in France this may not always be the case.

Online research conducted by FoodWatch coupled with consumer reports have uncovered a practice whereby French retail chains actually ramp up the price per kilo of products sold in larger sizes.

The organisation said it has uncovered ‘a dozen’ examples of the practice. Instances include Leclerc Meaux selling Danone plain yogurts at €0.73 (€1.46 / kg) for a pack of four versus €1.58 (€ 1.58 / kg) for a pack of eight. This represents an increase of 8.2% per kilo for the larger pack size, FoodWatch noted.

France’s largest retailers, including Carrefour, Auchan, Casino and Monoprix were all implicated in the consumer advocate’s exposé.

FoodWatch condemns a ‘label scam’ in the time of coronavirus

FoodWatch said that the practice ‘is probably not directly connected to the coronavirus crisis’.

However, the organisation suggested that its implications were more significant during the pandemic, when consumers are spending less time shopping and are more likely to buy larger pack sizes to minimise trips to the supermarket during the shutdown.

Camille Dorioz, campaign manager at foodwatch, explained: “These label scams concern many common products... The increases [in price] sometimes range from a few cents to over 29%.

“In these times when we are shopping at speed without taking the time to compare the prices per kilo of food, we consider this practice abusive and call on distributors to stop without delay.”

Retailers rebut accusation

French retail association Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution disagrees that this pricing practice is designed to confuse consumers.

A spokesperson for the organisation told FoodNavigator that French competition law prevented it from commenting on pricing decisions made by different grocers.

However, the spokesperson added: “In any event, there can be no deception, since the price per kilo is clearly displayed.”

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