UK supermarkets are misleading consumers over pricing according to an episode of the BBC’s Panorama programme aired in December. Panorama found that consumers were being charged more for larger ‘value packs’ than the equivalent in smaller packaging. For example, the BBC found a one kilogram pack of margarine spread cost £3.20 at one supermarket, more than double the cost of two 500 gram packs at £1.50 each. At another supermarket, the same 500 gram packages were £1 each, compared to a cost of £3.70 for the one kilogram ‘value’ pack.
All of the supermarkets interviewed denied deliberately misleading consumers. However, the BBC found 17 examples of this type of pricing within 13 kilometres of the presenter’s home.
The findings make the Friends of Glass wonder about the supermarkets’ claims that glass is more expensive than other packaging materials. Many UK supermarkets are forcing manufacturers to switch to plastics, citing the additional environmental cost of transporting glass. However, they simply ignore the total emissions over the lifecycle of each packaging material. When these are taken into account, glass is far ahead of the competition.
The supermarkets are also ignoring the opinions of their customers. A survey carried out by InSites and published in May 2011 found that glass remains the consumers’ preference for food and drinks. In the UK alone, the survey found that 64% of respondents choose glass packaging for a special occasion beverage. When asked why they prefer glass, 38% of UK consumers mentioned that glass preserves the taste of the food or drink better than other materials. Longevity of the packaged product was cited as a reason for choosing glass by 30% of UK consumers, while 29% mentioned that their favourite brands were in glass packaging.
Is glass packaging also your number one? Then let’s pass a clear message to manufacturers and supermarkets that glass packaging needs to come back and stay for good. Because it’s up to all of us to question policies and raise awareness on this issue. So time to send out some letters. Are you in? :-)