The brand association, which represents around 400 German brand companies, apparently has a touching idea of the German consumer. Well-behaved citizens who sit down at the kitchen table at home, take their reading glasses out of the case and plan their next purchase at their leisure. Always there: the supermarket brochures of the past five years, with the help of which you can immediately see how much a product has cost and whether it has become more expensive calculated in terms of the price per kilo or liter. Hard to imagine that someone could fall for hidden price increases!
In any case, there is no other explanation for the fact that Alexander Dröge, managing director of the lobby association, seriously stated the basic price on the supermarket shelf praised as effective consumer protection. “There’s nothing cheating or hiding,” he added when asked about the scams by manufacturers and retailers and whether a transparency platform was needed to stop them.
It’s been two years since these statements, and even if the pandemic has called some certainties into question, one thing is as certain as the corona infection at the Oktoberfest: tricks, cheating and cheating are still being done in the supermarket, in the current crisis maybe even more than ever before and more and more often not only from manufacturers but also from dealers. So it’s high time that politicians take action and shrinkflation– Mesh finally contained by stricter requirements. Because the practice of selling deceptive packaging with less content at the same price is now far too widespread – this is shown not least by the deceptive packaging list of the Hamburg Consumer Center, which will be published in five years have accumulated around 1000 entries. Manufacturers and dealers in their hunt for higher margins are of course to blame for the proliferation of cheating. But it is politics that coddled the powerful lobby groups of the industry for years and thus opened the floodgates to customer fraud in the first place.
The financial pressure on consumers is already enormous. Of course, it is more due to the skyrocketing heating and fuel costs that people are currently experiencing existential difficulties. The success may be controversial, but politicians are trying to take countermeasures in these two areas. This is reflected in the high inflation in the supermarket even stronger than in other areas of life – not only in open, but above all in hidden price increases that are supposed to be foisted on the customer.
It is unworthy of what is expected of consumers
Nevertheless, the legislature is all too politely reluctant to intervene. Being solely dependent on comparing prices more and more meticulously and searching the Internet for testimonials from cheated customers is undignified. Armin Valet recently stated that politicians are letting consumers down with their reluctance. Once again. The consumer advocate has been dealing with shrinkflation since 2005. And while the problem has long been known, coalition after coalition has lacked the political will to improve the distinction between fraud and criminal fraud for the benefit of consumers.
That wouldn’t even be difficult, just thinking a little outside the box. At the federal level, the legislature could change the packaging regulations and thus ensure that products have to be filled up to at least a certain proportion of the packaging volume. Manufacturers and retailers who shrink the content could be obliged to shrink the packaging as well. A limit of 30 percent still applies to the permitted proportion of air in the pack, which is based on a almost 40 years old management guidelinet.
At this point, consumer protection would also mean environmental protection. Because if you reduce the amount of content but keep the size of the pack, you not only harm the consumers, but also burden them by wasting resources also unnecessarily the environment. The market should be allowed to regulate, but more in the sense that only price, quality and marketing are the criteria for the success of a product – and not the most skilful cheating with the filling quantity.