Sneaky trick from Spanish supermarket brands to make you pay more

by Lorraine Williamson
sneaky supermarket tricks

MADRID – We are all facing price increases. Entrepreneurs and companies on all sides are making efforts to reduce the losses caused by the pandemic. Logically yes, but some do it in a very sneaky way. 

Some restaurants keep their prices the same but suddenly serve the dishes on smaller plates. Or your daily cup of coffee in Spain costs overnight €1.50 instead of €1.20. And, not to mention the increase in your energy bill. However, these are things that you see through and perhaps understand. However, in supermarkets, it works differently. 

The Spanish consumer organisation OCU denounces a ‘remarkable phenomenon’ that masks an increase in the prices of supermarket products. You pay more for a product without realizing it. 

OCU reports that manufacturers are reducing the contents of their packaging between 5% and 10%. For example, they offer smaller quantities for the same price or with lower discounts. This tactic is called shrink-flation or reduflation: giving slightly less product without passing it on to the price. 

In the recent OCU survey on supermarkets, it was found that 45% of references decreased their value, but in some cases “the decreases were only apparent, because they hide a curious phenomenon”, causing the amount of product to drop at a higher percentage. then the price. 

Sneaky examples 

For example, the Consumers’ Association speaks of “products whose quantity has been reduced in the packaging to camouflage the price increase” as is the case with Pescanova’s ‘lomos de merluza’ (hake fillet). This has reduced costs by 5.6%, but the packaging offers 10% less hake because it goes from 400 to 360 grams. “You pay less, but you get even less. The price has actually gone up,” the report says. 

The list of examples is growing. A bottle of Cola-Cao has been reduced by 40 grams and the price has been reduced by 8%. However, with the weight loss, the reduction is 3.1%. 

Cogesa Expats

A Danone natural yoghurt is 0.2% cheaper but contains 4% less than before, so in practice the price increases by almost 4%. 

An Activia, on the other hand, increases in price by 0.5% but offers 4% (5 grams) less product. So the real price increase is 4.7%. 

Looking at Tulipán margarine, it appears that the net content of the product has been reduced by 10% (50 grams less) and that the price has increased by 3.4% so that you as a consumer ultimately pay 14.8% more. 

In another notable case, Gallo’s spaghetti and macaroni packages have risen in price by 3.7% and 4.1% respectively, but offer 10% less product, which in practice represents a 15% increase in the real price. .2% and 15.7%. 

At the beginning of the month, the newspaper La Vanguardia already reported reductions in packaging with, for example, pasta, chocolate spread, yogurt, or biscuits. This enables brands to counteract rising costs due to the skyrocketing costs of raw materials, without passing this on to the final price that consumers have to pay. Yet it is a price increase, according to the OCU. 

Also read: These are the cheapest and most expensive supermarkets in Spain 

Masked increases affect CPI 

Aside from the impact of these practices on consumers’ wallets, the OCU points out that the declines that are actually masked increases could affect the calculation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If weight changes are taken into account, the prices of branded products would rise from the current 1.1% to 1.8%, it is explained. 

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