Greggs, the biggest bakers in the UK with 1,671 stores, including one in Marlborough High Street, has been accused of shrinking the size of a range of its products without telling customers they are secretly pushing up prices.
Yum-Yum doughnuts and triple chocolate muffins have been slimmed down by seven per cent, pizzas by five per cent, lemon drizzle doughnuts have shrunk eight per cent and – worst of all – the breakfast bacon roll by 18 per cent.
An investigation by the trade magazine The Grocer discovered the unheralded changes made by Greggs, which last year successfully fought off tax proposals in the price of hot and cold pasties introduced by Chancellor George Osborne.
A spokeswoman for Greggs refused to confirm exactly which products had gone up in price but on its website Greggs admitted that it had “reluctantly changed the price of some of our food with very minor increases.”
She said: “A small number of product recipes have changed driven by customer feedback and nutritional guidelines, which has reduced these product weights. These changes have been made over a long period of time, and our prices always remain at the great value our customers expect from us.”
And she added: “Greggs leads the bakery industry by being transparent about our food and providing detailed nutritional information about our products.
“We are constantly reviewing our products and making changes and improvements to them, and we update the product information and nutritional content for our customers on our website and our in-shop information leaflet.”
Price rises for ingredients is one reason for the price hikes, Greggs claiming too that the smaller sizes are better for the waistline, but Which? Magazine executive director Richard Lloyd told The Grocer that reducing the size of products was not fair on consumers.
“Shrinking products can be a way of raising prices, because pack sizes shrink but prices don’t,” he said.
Only last month Which? reported that big name brands are shrinking products by up to a quarter, but the prices aren’t dropping. And in some cases, they’ve even increased offering poorer value for money.
The magazine said: “We found a pack of Birds Eye beef burgers had four fewer burgers in it – now 12 instead of 16. We also discovered Pledge furniture polish had shrunk by 17 per cent. But the prices had stayed the same or risen.
“In fact, anything from bags of crisps to packs of dishwasher tablets are getting smaller.
“We asked the makers of these products why they had shrunk them, and were generally told that, in the face of rising costs they chose to shrink products rather than increase prices.”
A survey of Which? members found that 58 per cent say they would rather prices rose than packs got smaller. A further 37 per cent would rather the pack shrank, but only if they were told.
‘We think that this can be an underhand way of raising prices,’ said Which?