Award Winning Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Lessons from Pretzel Skimpflation

Long time readers of this blog may recall occasional pieces on consumer issues sometimes far afield from telecom. I see parallels, but perhaps they are not perfectly on point.  This piece might fit that bill as I draw parallels between adulteration of pretzels and the state of customer service in telecom and other industries.

Pretzels are one of my relatively few food indulgencies.  Bakers tout the non-fat nature of this product, but in reality pretzels are largely processed and not terribly healthy white flour, salt, soda, and yeast.  Lately, bakers have added a most unwelcomed ingredient: "vegetable fiber," otherwise known as cellulose, or more unappetizing wood pulp and sawdust.

Adding wood pulp helps bakers scrimp on costly wheat while maintaining the same package weight. In these inflationary times, clever pretzel makers engage in shrinkflation by reducing packages from 16 to 14.25 ounces.  They get another bite by replacing a portion of the wheat ingrient with a less costly filler.  They hit the trifecta by fooling consumers at the same time as the package price rises from an average $2.50 to over $4.00.

I have launched a personal boycott of any pretzel conmpany that sneaks in vegetable fiber.  You can taste the difference, which is not the case when high fructose corn syrup replaces cane sugar.

Maybe, just maybe, if enough consumers eschewed vegetable fiber adulterated pretzels, the bakers might relent.  Maybe not.

Will Frontier Airlines suffer in the marketplace, because they have eliminated even the option of talking to a live person for any reason?  Does Tracfone/Pageplus Cellular/Verizon suffer when they lie to the FCC and consumers about their efforts to call back to resolve a dispute with a subscriber?

Does any venture face adverse consequences when scrimping on customer care?  Has a Bot ever been able to understand your grievance, much less solve it?

We need more vocal and deliberate consumer pushback when ventures replace longstanding ingredients with cheaper and inferior substitutes.