The decisive USP of this chocolate bar is the compostable packaging from cardboard and wood pulp rather than its taste or size. Photo: lovechock

The decisive USP of this chocolate bar is the compostable packaging from cardboard and wood pulp rather than its taste or size. Photo: lovechock

A question of size - Is it just a myth or have the packaging sizes of chocolate bars really shrunk?

 Things used to better in the past.  Music, food and young people in any case. Even chocolate used to be bigger. True or false? The public rumour about shrinking chocolate bars is tenacious. According to a survey conducted by marketingfirm Boom Online Marketing among 1,000 consumers in the US and UK, 80% of the Brits and half of the Americans polled said that confectionary producers were constantly reducing the packaging sizes of these popular sweet snacks while rising their prices. But what truth is there in this widespread view?
British marketing firm Boom Online Marketing gets to the bottom of the shrinking chocolate-bar myth.  Photo: nic_ol / fotolia.com

British marketing firm Boom Online Marketing gets to the bottom of the shrinking chocolate-bar myth. Photo: nic_ol / fotolia.com

Fluctuations in size and weight

There is no unambiguous answer when comparing the size and weight of popular sweets over the past few decades. While sweets such as Twix or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups shrank by 17% and 7%, respectively, Mars, Snicker’s and Lion Bars experienced rising sizes and weights. The survey shows that there have been fluctuations in packaging size and weight over the decades but that the general trend points upwards.
A maximum of 250 calories should contained in a Mars chocolate bar. Photo: Mars

A maximum of 250 calories should contained in a Mars chocolate bar. Photo: Mars

Demand and health consquences

There are various reasons for downsizing. On the one hand, global demand for cocoa and chocolate is enormous; on the other, governments increasingly pay fixed prices to raw material suppliers making cultivation for many farmers less and less profitable. Add to this the health aspect: more than two out of tree adults are overweight today or even obese. Numerous initiatives are trying to encourage business to make a contribution to improving public health. Food group Mars made it its stated goal in 2012 to limit its sweets to max 250 calories per portion. This move, of course, reduces the size.

Trends in packaging processes

The industry is also looking for eco-friendly packaging alternatives. Manufacturers such as the Lovechock company, for example, have developed 100% bio-degradable packaging for their confectionary. This consists of cardboard from sustainable forestry and a special wood-pulp film, which can be composted in your own backyard. ‏Companies working with conventional packaging materials naturally also place emphasis on highest hygiene standards and use state-of-the-art technologies for manufacturing. High-performance packaging machines are capable of processing up to 600 bars per minute. Despite strictest quality controls impurities cannot be ruled out 100% - as evidenced by the product recall of Mars bars earlier this year.
The packaging machine Starpac 600L by Bosch gives manufacturers a high degree of flexibility for packaging small and medium-sized products such as chocolate. Photo: Bosch

The packaging machine Starpac 600L by Bosch gives manufacturers a high degree of flexibility for packaging small and medium-sized products such as chocolate. Photo: Bosch

So are the people polled right?

Yes and no. While some sweets have diminished in size, others have grown. The period in which the respondents grew up, also plays a role here. You have to admit though that the people who grew up in the 60s and say that Yorkie by Nestlé was bigger than today are right. Their perception is correct: the difference is as big as 20% after all.
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