Stocks of Cadbury's Dairy Milk slabs were in short supply at Wendy Knowler's local Pick n Pay last week, as the last of the 90g and 180g slabs were "run out" to make way for the new, smaller slabs of 80g and 150g.

Cape Town - 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 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”.

Reader Hasan Mahomedy noticed that the 90g slabs have been replaced by 80g ones.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 (or is still on its way out in some places) 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. Not so super anymore.

“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.”

Clearly, Mondelez would prefer consumers not to notice that they’re getting less chocolate. If they did, they’d have put the words “new smaller size!” on the new pack.

So instead of paying more for the same amount of chocolate, you’re paying the same price, but getting less, which is what the corporates mean by keeping a product “affordable”.

In effect, of course, the chocolate has become more expensive, as you’ll see if you look for the “per gram” or “per 100g” unit price on the shelf labels.

If this “affordable” trend continues, in another five years consuming an entire slab of chocolate won’t be considered indulgent at all.

Cape Times