The "Rama" brand fat spread is the "cheat pack of the year 2022". The margarine-like product from manufacturer Upfield received the most votes in an online vote by the Hamburg consumer advice center. The consumer advocates had given five products a choice that had caused trouble with hidden price increases.
According to the consumer advice center, more than 34,000 people took part in the election for the "deceptive package of the year 2022". This was more than twice as many as in the previous year. Candidate Rama received almost 42 percent of the votes. The Leerdammer cheese from Lactalis came in second with around 29 percent of the votes cast. The anti-limescale agent Calgon from the manufacturer Reckit Benckiser received around 11 percent, the Haribo Goldbären 10 percent and the Pringle chips from Kellogg around 8 percent of the votes (you can find out more about the candidates in the photo gallery).
Deceptive pack winner Rama has reduced the contents of its well-known cans from 500 to 400 grams, but has not changed the pack size. For customers, this means a hidden price increase of 25 percent, writes the consumer center. "Upfield went the extra mile and Rama more than deserved the vote for 'deceptive packaging of the year'," says Armin Valet from the Hamburg consumer advice center. "If the contents shrink but the pack doesn't, consumers have little chance of noticing the less-in trick."
Since spread fat is also a food that is often bought and is almost always offered in 500 gram cups, the procedure is particularly bold, says consumer advocate Valet. Never before have the consumer advice center received so many complaints about a product. Incidentally, Rama cannot call itself a full-fledged "margarine" because the proportion of rapeseed oil is too low. Water has been added to the product, so it is considered "three-quarter margarine" or "fat spread". Upfield also reduced filling quantities for its spreadable fat brands Lätta, Sanella, Becel and Violife in the last year, reports the consumer advice center. Manufacturer Upfield justifies the step with "dramatic cost increases in our entire supply chain, including our raw materials". The changes are "clearly recognizable" on the packaging.
The consumer center, on the other hand, sees the almost identical packaging as misleading for consumers and has even filed a lawsuit. However, what is to be regarded as deceptive packaging in the legal sense is often difficult to determine due to incomplete specifications. In addition to the hidden price increase, consumer advocate Valet also criticizes the unnecessary plastic waste caused by the lower filling of the pack. "Upfield now uses half a million more plastic cups to fill 1,000 tons of Rama," says Valet.
The Hamburg consumer advice center continuously collects complaints from consumers about hidden price increases for everyday products. Once a year, she selects five of these deceptive packages and has the "deceptive package of the year" voted on. In the vote a year ago, Homann's "Balkan-Art" paprika sauce received the negative prize.
Apparently, the rising food prices are enticing manufacturers even more to resort to filling quantity tricks in order to conceal price increases. According to consumer advice centers, there were more complaints about deceptive packaging in the past year than ever before. The consumer advice center speaks of "shrinkflation" in this context.