Food & Beverage

Toblerone changes triangles on its iconic chocolate bars in the UK, but denies it’s down to Brexit

Toblerone changes its triangle shape

U.K.-based lovers of Toblerone chocolate bars have been left upset and disappointed with the confectionery brand's American parent modifying the product's shape in a response to rising inflation.

According to owner Mondelez International in a statement on Toblerone's Facebook page, it was faced with the unpalatable options of reducing the size of two of its bars or bumping up prices. It added that this was due to a spike in the cost of its ingredients.

According to the statement from October, "We carry these costs for as long as possible, but to ensure Toblerone remains on-shelf, is affordable and retains the triangular shape, we have had to reduce the weight of just two of our bars in the U.K."

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Although the company denies the move was a result of the Brexit referendum, the sharp slump in sterling since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union on June 23 is a driving factor in the recent ramp up in inflation within Britain that is only expected to increase further in the months ahead.

The embattled British pound was also repeatedly highlighted as the key factor in the Bank of England's (BOE) decision to hike its forecast for 2017 inflation to 2.7 percent from 2.0 percent last week.

The means by which the company has chosen to implement the reduction has particularly upset many in Britain. The decision (represented by hashtag #Toblerone) was second place in terms of the most talked about trends on Twitter Tuesday within the U.K.

It was earlier also only second to the historic presidential elections happening in the U.S. Worldwide and it's still third in the most trending topics on the social media site.

Among the hundreds of messages posted on the social media site by desolate consumers, Andrea Elizabeth asked "Could 2016 get any worse?" and Alex despaired "Dear god what has the world come to?".

While indeed retaining the distinctive mountain-peaks shape, the newly configured bar leaves longer gaps between the elevated portions, rendering the overall look markedly different to the original bar.

Several commentators on social media sites suggest a better alternative would have been to decrease the length of the bar in order to make the difference less visibly noticeable.

Jacyn Heavens, CEO at Epos Now, a cloud-based software provider with over 30,000 retail and hospitality customers, also bemoaned the hollowing out of the number of peaks and said the changed shape came on top of price increases seen at many U.K. convenience stores. Data from Epos Now shows the average price of a 170 gram bar at the 1,000 shops surveyed jumped from £1.35 ($1.68) to £1.65 between January and October.

According to Heavens, "Toblerone's brand is the shape of that chocolate. It doesn't matter what size bar it is, from the tiny mini ones sold in local stores to the giant ones from the airport, they've always been the same shape. With the average price our customers are selling it for going up by 22 percent in less than a year, Mondelez is going to struggle if the amount of chocolate is also reduced."

The specter of inflation

The assault on Britons' plates looks set to continue as the specter of inflation looms ever higher, with a series of warnings in recent weeks about price hikes.

Amid recent media storms giving vent to public ire, Birds' Eye on Monday said it may need to hike the price of such classic items as its fish fingers, chicken nuggets and peas by up to 12 percent in order to offset rising inflation costs. This follows shortly after the "Marmitegate" saga wherein the quintessential British Marmite yeast product was removed from Tesco shelves after Unilever attempted to implement price increases.

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