Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bars shrink, again

You could call it the amazing disappearing chocolate bar! With premium ingredient costs on a big upward curve, Mondelez SA has quietly shrunk the size of SA’s best-loved chocolate bar, again.

Popular consumer columnist, Wendy Knowler of Independent Newspapers reports that it was in 2009 that some variants of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk slabs shrank – from 100g to 90g in the case of the smaller slabs and the “superslabs” from 200g to 180g.

At the time, Cadbury owner Kraft Foods – which has since renamed its global snacks business to Mondelez – said it had decided to pass on the increased cost of “premium” ingredients such as nuts and fruit by reducing the weight of the variants with those ingredients – such as the whole nut, and fruit and nut slabs.

Then in 2012, when the company repackaged its slabs in re-sealable foil packs, and the distinction fell away – all slabs were 90g or 180g.

And now, two years on, Cadbury’s slabs have shrunk yet again, again to make them “more affordable”, with the 90g slabs being replaced by 80g ones.

Meredith Kelly, Mondelez South Africa’s category leader for chocolate, confirmed that from mid-May new “mould sizes” were introduced – the 90g slab is gone to be replaced by the 80g slab, and the 180g slab is now 150g.

That means that in five years, the “super slab” has shrunk by a considerable 50g!

“Over the past year, there have been significant increases in the high quality ingredients that go into producing Cadbury chocolate,” Kelly said.

“For example, there has been an increase of 40 percent in the price of cocoa, a more than 60 percent rise in the cost of cocoa butter and a more than 35 percent hike in the cost of nuts.

“As global chocolate commodity costs continue to soar, there has been enormous pressure to maintain a high level of quality without compromising on the value offered. The resultant decision taken was to reduce the grammage of the Cadbury Dairy Milk slabs to ensure that we maintain our time-honoured chocolate quality and recipe.”

Food companies are, again, caught in a Catch 22 as they try to maintain their margins and keep products “affordable” in a time of high food inflation and a weakening currency. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t! Keep the size and recipe the same, and ratchet the price up – and retailers and consumers will bleat. Trim the size, but keep the recipe (?) and price the same – and consumers will still bleat!

Whatever the rationale, it will never go down well in the marketplace…