Push for front-of-pack weights to stay

Thursday, 01 June, 2017

Consumer group CHOICE has launched a campaign against an industry proposal that could see quantity statements stripped from the front of popular consumer goods, making it harder for consumers to compare products.

“You only have to look at the inconsistent sizing across products from companies like Cadbury’s and Arnott’s to realise how confusing it is for consumers to compare products,” said CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey. “Biscuit lovers might be shocked to learn that if they buy Arnott’s Chewy Caramel Tim Tams instead of the Tim Tam Originals they’ll end up with 25 g less, or 9 biscuits instead of 11.

“The erratic changes in weight across similar looking packs are likely to confuse consumers and illustrate why it’s vital the pack weight stays on the front of a product. The sad fact is some food companies can’t be trusted when it comes to pack claims and it’s not uncommon to see the size of products reduced but the price remain the same.”

CHOICE found comparing similar looking products from different companies can also prove difficult. “Mama Lucia Mini Bocconcini comes in a bigger pack than La Casa Del Formaggio Bambini Bocconcini, but if you buy the larger tub you’ll end up with 40 g less, ” Godfrey continued.

The National Measurement Institute (NMI) is set to consider proposals by food and cosmetic companies who are pushing to remove the current mandatory quantity measurement from the front of their products. “There’s no good reason for companies to be given permission to remove the quantity statements from the front of their products,” added Godfrey. “Our research has also shown hiding the quantity information on the back of pack is likely to short-change 74% of people who consider it important. Yet industry argues their proposal is designed to remove red tape.

“Front-of-pack quantity statements also allow consumers to look past deceptive pack sizes and colours, and with unit pricing not mandatory in all shops this information is essential.”

Currently, Australian weights and measure laws, and an international recommendation that Australia has signed on to, require that quantity statements are located on the front label of packages, where it is easy for consumers to notice, read and compare figures.

The NMI is consulting on the change until the end of June.

CHOICE is calling on consumers to write to the NMI to save front-of-pack weights at choice.com.au/weightywarning.

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