Maltesers - shrunk in size but not price, says the ONS

Maltesers - shrunk in size but not price, says the ONS

A study by the UK's Office for National Statistics (OMS) has revealed that more than 2,500 products - including household name chocolate bars - are subject to so-called 'shrinkflation'.

The term denotes products that have shrunk in size over the past five years but which are being sold for the same price.

The products include toilet rolls, coffee and fruit juice but the research also revealed a number of chocolate bars are being sold in smaller packet sizes.

Packets of Maltesers have shrunk from 121g to 103g, a reduction of 15%. Producer Mars has said it was a way of helping consumers afford the product.

And Toblerone has shrunk by 12%, with larger spaces between the triangular "mountains".

Like Mars, its manufacturer, Mondelez, said it changed the shape "to keep the product affordable" and said it was experiencing higher costs for ingredients.

However, the ONS has cast doubt on whether raw material costs are really rising. The European import price of sugar has been falling since the middle of 2014, and reached a record low in March 2017, it said.

And while the price of cocoa, another major ingredient, reached a five-year high in December 2015, it has fallen sharply over the last year.

Nor does the ONS accept that the impact of Brexit - the UK's ongoing departure from the European Union - as an excuse.

"Our analysis doesn't show a noticeable change following the referendum that would point to a Brexit effect," it said.

It has not all been bad news for consumers, though. The ONS survey said 614 products had actually got larger between 2012 and 2017.