McVitie’s Digestive Biscuit Packs Get Smaller Partly Because Of Brexit, As Owner Cites Change In Exchange Rate

Packs of McVitie’s Digestive are to shrink as the manufacturer copes with rising costs partly caused by the post-Brexit referendum fall in the pound’s value.

On Friday, confectionary company Pladis, which owns McVitie’s, announced it would cut packs of the biscuit from 500g to 400g, reducing the number of biscuits from 34 to around 27.

It follows other food products being shrunk amid rising prices and the pound’s dip after the June 2016 referendum that made it more expensive to import food and ingredients.

The manufacturer cited the post-Brexit exchange rate and other rising costs as the reason for the change

“The rising cost of ingredients and changes in the exchange rates means it has become more expensive to bake our products,” said Nick Bunker, UK and Ireland managing director of pladis, the confectionary company that owns McVitie’s.

“We work hard to drive efficiencies throughout our business to absorb cost increases, but occasionally, like many other businesses in these challenging times, we do need to make some adjustments.”

He added: “We’re announcing this now, before they come fully into effect, because we want to be completely open and transparent with our customers and consumers.”

The pound fell in value after the referendum on June 23, 2016 from around 1.30 Euros to around 1.13 now, and around $1.49 to around $1.39 now.

Anti-Brexit campaigners Open Britain seized on Pladis announcement to say: “The everyday consequences of the post-Brexit fall on the value of the pound are difficult to digest.”

Its deputy director Frances Grove-White said: “No wonder the latest polling shows support for hard Brexit is crumbling…

“The Brextremists are taking the biscuit with their support for a recipe of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.

“They need to accept we cannot have our cake and eat it, or our economy will be cream crackered by a hard Brexit.”

Pladis said the smaller biscuit packs, which will be on the shelves by the end of January, were the first change to the product “in many years”.

A spokesman said the price of the new pack “is ultimately at the discretion of the retailer”.

In September, Pladis scaled back Jaffa Cakes from 12 to 10 in a box.

Research has shown thousands of products have shrunk in recent years.

Toblerone announced it was shrinking its distinctive chocolate bars in November 2016, when its bars went from 400g to 360g and the triangles on the bars were spaced out.

The company later said it was not caused by the exchange rate change that followed Brexit.

Mondelez, which owns Toblerone, told the BBC the rate was “not favourable” but added: “This change wasn’t done as a result of Brexit.”

Poundland then released a “pre-Brexit” version of Toblerone called “Twin Peaks” that had “the spaces in the right places”. 

A study by The Office of National Statistics found last year that 2,529 products, mostly food and drink, were reduced in size between in 2012 and 2017.

The ONS said the fall in the pound’s value may be raising manufacturers’ costs but added the trend of “shrinkflation” preceded the Brexit vote,

“Others (including Which?) had been observing these shrinking pack sizes long before the EU referendum, and several manufacturers have denied that this is a major factor,” it said.