The packaging stays the same, the content shrinks, the price goes up. Or, the packaging simply suggests more content. It's called cheat pack. The Hamburg consumer advice center uncovers such swindles. And sometimes there are pleasant surprises.
This month, the Bircher muesli from Lidl's own brand Crownfield was awarded the title "Deceptive Pack of the Month" by the Hamburg Consumer Advice Center (VZHH). The reason for the negative price: The manufacturer uses packaging that contains less content than you might think from the outside.
According to the VZHH, Lidl sells its Bircher muesli in a 18-centimetre-high, cylindrical can made from a solid composite material that you cannot see through. Consumers can neither look into the can nor see or feel the level of the contents.
The 400 grams of Bircher muesli are only distributed over about half of the can. The rest is pure air. And according to measurements by consumer advocates, that's about 9 to 10 centimeters the height of the can. According to the VZHH, many customers felt deceived by the packaging or complained about a waste of resources.
According to the Food Information Ordinance, information, for example on the quantity of the food, must not be misleading. The Measurement and Calibration Act also prohibits packs "if their design and filling appear to contain a larger quantity than is contained in them." That is why the consumer advice center warned the discounter in February 2022 and asked them not to resell the muesli in this presentation. Since Lidl did not comply with this request, a lawsuit was filed. The verdict is still pending.
Apparently, the legal measure is still having an effect. Because the consumer advice center was able to determine that sometimes 470 grams of muesli were suddenly filled in the same can size. That's almost 20 percent more content. According to this, there are only 400 grams in the pack up to the specified best-before date of 11/2022, and 470 grams from 12/2022. Both versions are apparently in the Lidl branches at the moment. The price of the muesli has not changed at 2.99 euros. As a result, the muesli is now sometimes around 15 percent cheaper.
Consumers often have to be annoyed about hidden price increases. Assuming they discover them too. The VZHH offers the opportunity to draw attention to products with which customers are deceived in this way (less content for the same price). She then makes these products public and chooses them the deceptive pack of the month and of the year.
(This article was first published on Friday, May 13, 2022.)