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Most consumers assume it pays to buy in bulk; that the bigger pack of margarine, breakfast cereal or tea works out cheaper than the smaller one.
And when the manufacturer goes as far as to reinforce this perception with a bold on-pack claim of “Bigger Pack, Better Value”, as in the case of the current box of 200 Joko tea bags, few consumers would doubt this is the case.
But while shopping at Pick n Pay on Nicol in Bryanston, Stuart Mann discovered the 100-bag pack of Joko – not marked as being on promotion – was in fact better value, working out at 19c per tea bag versus 25c per tea bag with the “better value” 200-bag pack.
“In fact, buying two of the 100 tea bag boxes would have been R10 cheaper than buying one 200-bag box.
“I don’t have a problem with this, as I always check the unit prices on the shelf, and often the smaller packs are cheaper, but I do have a problem with the larger 200 tea bag box having branding stating ‘Bigger Pack, Better Value’.
“To my mind this is a lie and less discerning consumers will not realise they are being cheated.”
Responding, Unilever’s communications director Elizabeth Pretorius said retailers were not compelled to stick to Unilever’s recommended selling prices.
“The “Bigger Pack, Better Value” claims on the Joko 200s black tea bags, Glen 200s black tea bags and Joko 500g black loose tea are in fact correct and valid within the context of recommended retail selling prices,” she said.
Pretorius added there was no intention to mislead the consumer.
“Although it would be in Unilever’s interests to see consumers rewarded for buying bigger pack sizes, we cannot dictate margins retailers want to take on different pack sizes.”
Consumers should always check the unit prices of items, Pretorius said.
“As pointed out by Stuart Mann, the price a bag is made clearly visible by the retailer at the shelf for shoppers to make their own decision to purchase the bigger pack or not.”
So ignore bold claims on packs and seek the real story, found in the unit price on the shelf label. Only Pick n Pay and Checkers/Shoprite stores display unit prices on shelf labels – you won’t find unit prices in Spar or Woolworths stores.