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Metric Culprits

Fox's Glacier Mints downsize to Metric packs

(October 2002)

The confectionery product Fox's Glacier Mints has been downsized as part of a metric rip-off. Featured below are images of the two versions of the Fox's Glacier Mints bags. To the left is a bag weighing what is more commonly understood as 8 ounces - "227g". To the right is the new metric bag of 200g. In neither case is the weight indication displayed on the front of the bags; the weights are on the reverse. In neither case are the weights described in ounces, even though surveys show that most consumers are more familiar with customary units than metric.

227g (8oz) 200g
On the reverse On the reverse

To establish whether prices were reduced to reflect the smaller metric quantities, a BWMA consumer protection officer made two test purchases on October 23rd and 24th at a WH Smith store in London where 227g bags were being replaced with 200g metric bags. In both cases, the BWMA officer was charged £1.50. Given that the 200g bag represented a reduction of 27g or 1 oz in weight, this represented an overnight price increase of 13% in real terms.

Furthermore, on examining the till receipts (below), the BWMA officer discovered that the weight indication for the metric pack was absent from the till receipt. This means that the consumer has no confirmation on the receipt that the metric pack contains a smaller amount.

  WH Smith till receipt for a 227g bag, priced £1.50, 23/10/02 WH Smith till receipt for 200g bag, also £1.50, 24/10/02. The weight is not shown on the receipt
 

Similar test purchases were made by BWMA consumer protection officers at Sainsburys and Woolworths; in neither case were prices reduced.

At the time of the downsizing (October 2002), Fox's was owned by Northern Foods which is linked to other metric reductions. For example, Northern Foods own Bowers sausages which were decreased from 16oz to 400g (14oz) with no reduction in price. When challenged on this by a BWMA member, Northern Foods replied:

"Rather than ask customers to pay above the market price, we have reduced the weight of each sausage" (30/5/01).

BWMA wishes to point out that in September 2003, Fox’s Confectionery was acquired by a new owner, Big Bear Ltd. Fox's is no longer owned by Northern Foods. Visit the new Fox’s Confectionery website.

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