Brands busted for selling products under advertised weight

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An investigation into supermarket foods has shown that Aussie consumers may be getting ripped off at the checkout – this time from underweight products.

Conducted by the Courier Mail, more than 30 different products were tested to see whether the actual contents matched the advertised weight on the outside of the packaging, with the results revealing that around one in four (26%) of the tested products were under weight.

The biggest difference came from Fountain Tomato Sauce, the newspaper reports. While advertised to contain 500ml, the investigation measured only 450ml.

Other offenders included Smith’s Crinkle Cut Chips 20 Pack and Tamar Valley’s Mango Yoghurt, which showed that consumers were missing out on up to 10 grams of food per item.

“Even if you’re losing 5 or 10% off that weight over a period of a year, that’s a lot of margin that the brand manufacturers are creating,” said Gary Mortimer, from the Queensland University of Technology Business School.

“Traditionally, manufacturers will put on a little extra just to cover any weights and measures lost they may incur while sitting on a shelf.”

At the time of publishing, neither Fountain or Tamar Valley had responded to the Courier Mail’s findings, with Smith’s claiming its displayed weights are an average.

This isn’t the first time that supermarket brands have been found to be shortchanging customers, with the Federal Government’s National Measurement Institute fining both Woolworths and Coles in 2016 for selling products that were weighed up to 41% less than advertised, with the Institute also handing out over $70,000 worth of fines last year to individual companies.

With the findings coming to light, consumers are being warned to be wary when buying groceries.

What does this mean for consumers?

With groceries one of the biggest household expenses, finding out that we’re being ripped off at the checkout can be a hard pill to swallow, especially when it concerns products that we’re regularly buying.

While it may be unrealistic to weigh every product before you put it in your shopping trolley, customers are being advised to pay closer attention to what they’re buying, as underweight products can end up costing households thousands of dollars annually.

It’s not all bad news for shoppers, however, with the new investigation showing that Aussie breakfast icon Weet-Bix was packing an extra 38g into its 575g box, meaning that despite the findings, consumers still have the opportunity to snag a bargain.

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