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Which? outs misleading packaging tactics


An investigation by consumer group Which? has found that packaging tactics used by supermarkets and manufactures run the risk of misleading shoppers about products and deals.

Which? found cases such as a Lynx giftset on sale for £6.50 contained a deodorant that normally cost £3 and shower gel that cost £2. Manufacturer Unilever told Which? that the cost of making gift packs was much higher and retailers set the price.

The investigation also discovered that food sold in supermarkets labelled as “light” may not actually be a healthier option, for example McVitie’s Light Digestives contained 4.5g more sugar per 100g than the standard biscuits. Copycat products where also an issue, in which supermarkets own brand products use very similar packaging and colour schemes as well-know brands, tricking customers into thinking they have bought the well known brand.

Also worrying is the fact that products which seemingly looked like they contained no meat actually contained fish ingredients. They have advised vegetarian shoppers to not trust that a product does not contain meat unless it specifies “suitable for vegetarians” on the packaging.

Another criticism was several examples of fruit drinks where the main ingredient is missing from the name, for example Innocent Kids Cherry & Strawberry Smoothies which only contain 18% cherries and strawberries, with the main ingredients being – cheaper – apples and grapes. Manufacturers said that they named products based on the main flavours.

Which? editor, Richard Headland, said:
“We’ve found packaging tactics across the supermarkets that run the risk of misleading customers. Supermarkets and manufacturers need to play fair to avoid confusing consumers.

“We’re campaigning for simple food pricing to make it easy for consumers to compare products and find the best deal.”

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