The mysterious case of the disappearing hot chocolate

by Julie Gibbons on September 22, 2009

Our pledge to never shop in supermarkets ever again hasn’t actually panned out. The reality is that sometimes it’s too difficult to get what we need without visiting a supermarket – and oft times, it’s just too damn expensive not to.

I still try to avoid them like the plague – but when I am forced to go, I find myself in a perpetual state of frustration, muttering under my breath like the genuine crazy cat lady.

Here’s one of the most disturbing trends to unleash my frustration:

chocco subterfuge

chocco subterfuge

Have you noticed the same thing? Need me to explain? I’ve been buying Clipper instant hot chocolate for years. I like to use it mostly for milk shakes. It’s been in the same place on the same shelf in the same supermarket for a couple of years now, I guess.  Back from our 2 months house-swap in France, I took a visit to the supermarket to restock the cupboards, and whaddya know? Instead of Clipper instant hot chocolate, I find a usurper : Morrison’s own brand version. A few pence cheaper, and sitting proudly on the shelf where the Clipper version used to be.

On closer inspection it’s exactly the same jar – and I suspect exactly the same product? Have Morrisons given Clipper a contract to supply them with their own brand? I suspect if they have, Clipper’s profit margins have been reduced substantially – how else could Morrisons have lowered the price?

It’s a disturbing trend. I see it with all sorts of products – from jam, to posh puddings, tinned tomatoes and jars of pasatta. I see it a lot with the local produce brands – and the organic versions.  They don’t create their own version and give me, the consumer, the choice of own brand vs brand – they remove the competitor completely. It’s simply a case of supermarkets systematically reducing our choice, and shafting the suppliers.

Next time you go to the supermarket, do some research and check out what brands are disappearing from your store.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Philip November 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I too love clipper organic hot chocolate, having been first introduced to it in a hotel I regularly stay in on business. The trouble with home brands is that they don’t always stay true to the original as they force the price down, they may on occasions change the percentage ingredients. I will have to take a peek at the ingredients list.


Julie Gibbons November 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for visiting Philip.

It is a minefield. Ethics throws in all sorts of decisions, too – like Green & Blacks being bought by Cadbury who were in turn bought by Kraft…

Best just to make the chocolate ourselves ;)


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