Valentine's Day candy prices are up nearly 10%, but that doesn't mean you'll be getting more candy in your heart-shaped box of chocolates, according to a report by The Washington Post.
Some consumer advocates are pushing back against deceptively large boxes of chocolates they say don't contain nearly as much candy as the packaging suggests. Separate from "shrink-flation" — when companies sneakily reduce the sizes of products while maintaining or raising prices to combat inflation — some are pointing to mostly empty packages as evidence of "slack-filling," the Post reported. Packaging And Design Companies
The practice refers to "when a manufacturer deliberately over-packages a product using a package substantially larger than the amount of content inside," Ed Dworsky, founder of shopping advice website Consumer World, told The Washington Post.
Per the Post, consumers claim boxes of Valentine's candy from popular brands like Russel Stover and Whitman include a significant amount of empty space after you remove the inner tray that holds the chocolates.
Ghirardelli and Russell Stover, which operate under the same parent company, were each fined $750,000 in 2019 for their packaging practices, the Post reported. Russell Stover told the outlet that in response to the most recent claims, the number of chocolates in its 5.1-ounce box have remained the same.
Federal regulations prohibit companies from over-packaging goods, and even refer to the practice of slack-filling by name.
"A container that does not allow the consumer to fully view its contents shall be considered to be filled as to be misleading if it contains nonfunctional slack-fill," the Department of Health and Human Services regulation reads. "Slack-fill is the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein."
The government occasionally uses the regulation to crack down on companies, while consumers have used it as the basis for a number of lawsuits over the years on claims of half-filled products ranging from Raisinets to Halo Top ice cream.
Still, some consumers say the practice of slack-filling chocolates seems to continue unabated in the Valentine's Day candy aisles of grocery and convenience stores.
Printed Paper Gift Bags "What ever happened to the fluted paper candy cups? They did a good job of separating the candy and protecting it and they were much cheaper," Ed Dworsky, founder of shopping advice website Consumer World, told The Washington Post. "You used to get a box of candy and it was packed with the candy, one right next to the other."