Unilever has sued French supermarket chain Intermarché for openly accusing the manufacturer of shrinkflation. The retailer had used posters to complain about the shrinkage of Magnum, for example.
The posters appeared in several Intermarché stores late last week, with the retailer accusing its supplier of shrinkflation. “Avant, Magnum ça voulait dire grand” (“Magnum used to mean big”), for example, was meant to denounce that Magnum’s packaging has been reduced in size. Indeed, according to the supermarket chain, the weight of a Magnum fell by 70 grams, pushing up the selling price per kilogram by 39 %. Some other Unilever brands, like Carte d’Or and Knorr, are also said to be guilty of shrinkflation.
Unilever is not too happy with the remarkable protest: the manufacturer sent bailiffs to some supermarkets, demanding them to stop the “denigrating” campaign. However, the manufacturer is now also taking the retailer to court: “We have received a surprising summons from Unilever”, Intermarché confirmed to news website 20minutes. A hearing is scheduled for 31 January, which coincidentally – or not – is also the deadline for commercial negotiations in France.
“We have been denouncing the practice of shrinkflation for several weeks now, well before the start of the current negotiations”, Intermarché responded. With this campaign, the retailer hopes to push manufacturers towards greater transparency.
Intermarché is not the first supermarket chain to accuse manufacturers of such unfair practices: last autumn, Carrefour had already put posters in its aisles with the message “This product has seen its weight decrease and the price charged by our supplier increase”. The action led to accusations of hypocrisy, as the retailer itself had reduced some private label packaging.
The French government is considering requiring manufacturers and retailers to inform consumers when they reduce a product in size or weight. However, this would require an agreement from the European Commission.