Council's consumer crusade on 'shrink by stealth'

By on 22/12/2009 in News

Concerned by a rise in manufacturers stealthily shrinking the size of goods yet continuing to charge the same price, Birmingham City Councillor Neil Eustace is urging the Government to act.

Councillor Eustace, Chair of Birmingham City Council's Public Protection Committee, has written to Kevin Brennan MP, Minister for Consumer Affairs, urging him to close the loophole that makes the practice legal.

Councillor Eustace says:

“Consumers need to be protected from this unfair practice, which means that they are effectively being charged more for less. Changes made to the Weights and Measures Act allow packers and food manufacturers to reduce quantities contained in their products without reducing prices.

Only the most observant consumers will realise that products they buy every week, such as breakfast cereals, tea, coffee, or biscuits no longer contain the same quantities. Even tins of Christmas chocolates have shrunk in size. This enables manufacturers to increase the cost of food by stealth”.

Councillor Eustace wants to see legislation protecting consumers by requiring all retailers to display the unit price of foodstuffs, enabling consumers to make informed value for money decisions. Currently, the requirements apply only to 'large' shops, defined as having a shop floor area greater than 280 square metres. As a consequence, small shops do not have to display unit prices and consumers are left unprotected.

ENDS

For more information please contact Hayley Meachin on 0121 303 1271/ 07920 750007 hayley.meachin@birmingham.gov.uk

Notes to Editors

Changes made to the Weights and Measures Act in April this year were brought about as a result of European Directive 2007/45.

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  1. Eric says:

    I don’t get the point of this – as long as a manfacturer is clearly stating how much something weighs, what is the point?

    Surely (as has been the case since the dawn of time) it is the responsibility of the consumer to make sure they are getting a good deal.

    And the thing about unit price is yet another bit of red tape that will harm smaller retailers, as they will become embroiled in yet another process that will take up their valuable time and resources.

    Nanny state gone mad if you ask me! Common sense is the best “public protection” of all!

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