A Mondelēz International spokesperson told FoodNavigator: “We don’t regret our actions; we still firmly believe it is the right thing.”
The chocolate giant had earlier announced plans to cut the sizes of all its Cadbury chocolate bars sold as part of a multipack, such as the popular products Wispa, Crunchie and Twirl, to bring them under 200 calories by the end of 2021.
It said the move aimed to help tackle obesity and built on its pledge to bring all its Cadbury chocolate and wider biscuit products typically bought by parents for children under 100 calories by the end of 2020. Last year it reduced the sizes of its popular chocolate bars in a bid to tackle childhood obesity. The Cadbury bars, Fudge, Curly Wurly and Chomp, as well as Barny sponge bears and Cadbury Mini Fingers and Cadbury Animals are now all under 100 calories.
Louise Stigant, UK Managing Director at Mondelēz International, said: “Our products have been delighting consumers for hundreds of years and we feel a strong sense of duty to preserve what makes them so special. We also recognise we must play our part in tackling obesity and are committed to doing so without compromising on consumer choice. That is why we have been focusing on the areas we know will make the greatest impact and have been backed up by consumer research and nutritional science.
"A focus on portion control is recognised as one of the most effective ways of helping people balance their calorie intake. As a result of this move and bringing all our products typically bought by parents for children under 100 calories we are removing more than 12 billion calories from the UK market annually, illustrating that targeted action from business can make a huge difference.”
But the current move was met with a backlash from consumers, angry that the cut in product size was not met with a downsizing in its prices, particularly at time when many households are feeling an economic squeeze owing to the COVID pandemic.
Adam French, the consumer rights expert at Which?, said: "It's good that Cadbury is being upfront about this change and laudable that Mondelez wants to help to tackle the obesity crisis - but some customers will rightly wonder why the prices of these products aren't coming down along with the size.
"In recent years, we've repeatedly seen this trend of popular products shrinking while the prices stay the same, and it is understandable that households, many of them facing a squeeze on their finances, feel frustrated by it."
Andy Baxendale, aka the ‘The Sweet Consultant’, with over 20 years’ experience in the confectionery industry, said that reducing portion sizes to tackle obesity was a cynical approach.
“My firm belief is that chocolate and confectionery is a treat and not part of a person’s staple diet,” he told FoodNavigator.
“As such people should be educated in how to achieve a staple diet, not just dictated to by the nanny state about what is bad for them. The general population must be given the choice and outcomes at an early age of their eating habits.
“Shrinking portion sizes for me is a cynical approach if the price does not reflect the reduction in size, especially when hidden behind an obesity excuse.”
Education is key, he added. “All children are smothered with maths and English lessons - the same needs to happen with food, diet and the effect on the body - after all algebra and pronouns are not going to keep you at your optimal weight and health.”
Mondelēz International said it was up to individual retailers what they charged for products, although it is not planning to cut its own prices.
Mondelēz said it has invested heavily in innovation to offer consumers more choices. In 2019, the company launched Cadbury Dairy Milk with 30% less sugar, in what it described as the most significant innovation in the brand’s history. The bar sits alongside the standard bar.
Earlier this year, amid accusations that big chocolate brands were not backing reformulated products with the necessary marketing spend, Mondelēz said the 30% bar was performing ‘in line with expectations’, with ‘higher than-average repeat purchasing rates’.
The company also launched Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums with 30% less sugar and reduced salt and saturated fat in products such as Ritz DairyLea and Oreos.