scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Britons grumble as Toblerone chocolate shrinks

The maker of Toblerone Swiss chocolate is now producing a product that weighs less but costs the same price.Alastair Grant/Associated Press

GENEVA — More valleys, fewer peaks: The maker of Toblerone Swiss chocolate has widened the spaces in some of its iconic, triangle-array bars, offering about 10 percent less product for the same price. Fans are outraged.

The multinational says the move — it affects products globally, though mainly in Britain — was necessary to cope with higher prices for ingredients. But many consumers are livid at the perceived sleight of hand and the change to the traditional look of the treat, created in 1908 in Switzerland.

‘‘The shape of the bar may have looked like the Swiss Alps before; now it’s a bit more Holland,’’ said British consumer Tony Mathews.


For many, Toblerone is linked to travel — a gift purchased at the airport before boarding a plane home — though it is increasingly available in supermarkets and shops.

Mondelez International, of Deerfield, Ill., said that pricing targets by UK discount customer Poundland prompted the change in Britain. It said the retailer, which sells goods for one pound ($1.22), resisted a price increase, leading to the solution of offering less chocolate.

Poundland declined to comment.

Mondelez said Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was not to blame. But it comes as British food retailers have faced rising prices for imported goods due to a drop in the pound’s value since the June vote.

In a shift akin to widening a donut’s hole, the tweak in Britain involves shrinking a 170-gram Toblerone sold by British discounters like Poundland to 150 grams, said Mondelez spokeswoman Heide Hauer. The price remains the same.

Some British consumers likened the new shape to a toothless comb, others to the mouth of a crocodile. Some joked about how the issue was grabbing headlines on the day Americans were electing a president.

The signature 100-gram Toblerone bar and other vendors are not affected, Hauer said. But Toblerone also has trimmed its super-size 400 gram product — often sold in airports — to 360 grams globally, for the same recommended retail price.


Michael Payne, executive director of the International Association of Airport Duty Free Stores, noted that duty free shops sell Toblerone in a variety of sizes, so he’s not sure how this change would affect sales.

Hauer from Mondelez cited ‘‘a multitude’’ of factors like rising commodity prices, a regular review of pricing, and the fallout from a weakening of the Swiss franc in early 2015 that caused a spike in production costs.

The switcheroo in Britain, which began in September, was weeks in the making: Toblerone’s official Facebook page featured a post on Oct. 15 explaining that the company was facing higher costs for ‘‘numerous ingredients.’’