Britain Panics as Mondelez Cuts the Size of Toblerone

November 8, 2016, 3:51 PM UTC
150g and 170g bars of Toblerone chocolate are illustrated in Loughborough
Mind the gap.
Darren Staples — Reuters

Britain faces another bleak consequence of its vote to leave the EU: smaller chocolate bars.

On Tuesday, snack-maker Mondelez International (MDLZ) said it will cut the size of its distinctive Toblerone bars in the U.K., to reflect the fact that the pound doesn’t buy as much Swiss chocolate as it did before June 23.

The most common 170-gram (7-ounce) bar will shrink to 150g, while the more indulgent 400g bar will shrink to 360g. The length of the bar will stay the same, but there will be a bigger space between each chunky chocolate triangle.

Mondelez said in a Facebook post that “like many other companies, we are experiencing higher costs for numerous ingredients. 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., from the wider range of available Toblerone products.”

The incident is the latest in a pattern of price rises since the Brexit vote, reflecting the decline in sterling: last month, Apple hiked the price of its MacBooks and iMacs by 20%, while consumer goods giant Unilever plc (UL) fought a brief but furious battle with the country’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco Plc (TSCDY) over price rises for some of its staples such as Dove deodorant and Marmite, a yeast extract spread.

The Toblerone news, which trended above the Presidential election on most news sites in the U.K., was a gift to photo-shoppers and Twitter wags everywhere…

Sterling has fallen by 16% against the dollar and by 14% against the euro since June 23. The decline hasn’t yet been reflected in official inflation data, but the Bank of England last week said it expected higher import prices to push inflation up to 2.8% within 18 months, and only return to its 2% target in 2020. It’s far from clear, in the current environment, whether wages will keep up with that.