Charlie and the Shrinking Factory

Production costs hit everyone, even Mr Willy Wonka apparently.

The chocolate magnate from Roald Dahl’s story books represented absolutely limitless production means, with enough money to make an indoor chocolate waterfall, and hollow out floors for his chocolate factory multiple storeys underground.

But in the real world, it’s costly to make sweet sweet chocolate – a fact painfully clear with Toblerone’s newest cost-saving chocolate bar: aka sparser mountains and broader valleys.

Toblerone’s company Mondelez has explained it was due to rising costs of many ingredients. Which raises the follow up question: why not just shorten the bars?

After all, Toblerone has been known to play around with the length and scale while keeping their signature design. Check out their:

Jumbo Bar (4.5 kg)

And the ever-so-quirky Toblerone & on & on & on & on & on & on &… (only in Australia apparently)

Another way to tackle cost is just to charge more (McDonalds has raised their prices again and again, but we’re still patronising them…grumble). But higher prices tend to turn customers off, which may explain Toblerone’s latest move – shrinkflation.

That’s when product quantity is reduced, while maintaining the same price. The packaging for the affected Toblerone bars actually remained the same size even though there was less chocolate inside. By removing a few “mountains”, Toblerone actually saves 10% of chocolate for each 170g and 400g chocolate bar sold in the UK.

This trend is not new and has actually been picking up steam around the world, but we often don’t notice because our shopping is based more on prices than quantities (so for instance, if your canned soup takes a minute less to boil, you just might be paying more for less without realising it).

Toblerone’s choice of shrinkflation however was just too painful to watch. Fans expressed their anger through lots of satire, comparing the new and “de-proved” design to a “toothless comb”, with gaps “almost wide enough to park a jumbo jet”.

Come on, Toblerone – with everything going on in the world,

You know you gotta respect our comfort food.



By Vincent Tan