Day 554: Disappearing Chocolate Bars

Cape Town - It was in 2009 that some variants of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk slabs shrank – from 100g to 90g in the case of the smaller slabs and the “superslabs” from 200g to 180g.

At the time, Cadbury owner Kraft Foods – which has since renamed its global snacks business Mondelez – said it had decided to pass on the increased cost of “premium” ingredients such as nuts and fruit by reducing the weight of the variants with those ingredients – such as the whole nut, and fruit and nut slabs.

Then in 2012, when the company repackaged its slabs in re-sealable foil packs, and the distinction fell away – all slabs were 90g or 180g.

And now, two years on, Cadbury’s slabs have shrunk yet again, again to make them “more affordable”.

Reader Hasan Mahomedy noticed that the 90g slabs have been replaced by 80g ones.

Meredith Kelly, Mondelez South Africa’s category leader for chocolate, confirmed that from mid-May new “mould sizes” were introduced – the 90g slab is gone (or is still on its way out in some places) to be replaced by the 80g slab, and the 180g slab is now 150g.

That means that in five years, the “super slab” has shrunk by a considerable 50g. Not so super anymore. - IOL

As many know, I am a chocoholic. I have always loved chocolate and it forms a pretty big part of my diet. My favourites change every now and then - sometimes I'll eat the same kind of chocolate every day for months and sometimes for weeks.

Every now and then something happens that really pisses me off. It's obviously not as important as ending poverty and such, but it is a symptom of this sick economic system that we have created and that we continue trying to nurse to a state of healthiness, rather unsuccessfully. Every now and then the recipe of chocolate changes - sometimes it's a Nestle bar, other times Cadbury's - some small *something* is changed and the chocolate bar no longer is what it once was. Sometimes manufacturers deny that anything was changed and other times they tell you that some small thing was changed but that it did not affect the flavour of the chocolate. Yeah right.

What has happened recently with Cadbury's slabs in South Africa is that they have shrunk considerably in size (see article extract above for details). The prices have not changed. The reasoning of Mondalez is that the cost of producing chocolate has increased. The real problem with this situation is that I didn't even know that the slabs had gotten smaller until I happened to glance at the weight on the label. The chocolate doesn't look like it has gotten smaller. This to me is a very fiendish way for any business to behave and goes to show how much they actually care about their customers. What does it tell you about Mondalez that they did not make an effort to inform their customers of the coming changes? What does it tell you about Mondalez that they made the smaller slabs appear to be the same size by making them thinner instead of shorter (therefore creating the illusion that the slab is still as big as before)?

What does it tell you about our society that all of the biggest companies that provide us with so many goods and services resort to trickery and optical illusions instead of openness and transparency to communicate with us, their customers? It may tell you that our society does not value honesty very highly, or that our society does not value basic respect between people.

One of the problems in this equation is that we accept the behaviour of these big corporations within the belief that we cannot do anything about it and that "that's just how it is". Now things have gotten so bad that it is going to take a lot of work to change the way things work, and the longer we allow our society to continue like this the harder it will get to get to a point of mutual respect between people and businesses, where each person is equally priceless.