The na­tion’s fes­tive treat is show­ing signs of in­equal­ity

Se­lec­tion process for Qual­ity Street is re­vealed to short-change cho­co­late lovers on top favourites

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Katie Mor­ley CON­SUMER AF­FAIRS ED­I­TOR

IT IS a prob­lem that has for gen­er­a­tions caused rows among sweet­toothed fam­i­lies when the Christ­mas choco­lates are passed around.

And now, con­sumer mag­a­zine

Which? has es­tab­lished that some boxes of fes­tive choco­lates re­ally do con­tain fewer of our favourites, in what could even be a cyn­i­cal ploy to get us to buy big­ger packs.

There is bad news for Qual­ity Street fans as Which? found tins con­tain half of the “ideal” ra­tio of the most pop­u­lar favourites, the Pur­ple One and the Green One, ex­plain­ing why many fam­i­lies scram­ble over them ev­ery year.

Re­spec­tively, there are only five and six in an av­er­age 720g tub, but with peo­ple’s favourites taken into ac­count there should re­ally be 11 and 10 of the sweets, Which? cal­cu­lated.

The chronic short­age of Pur­ple Ones can be ex­plained by Nes­tle’s se­lec­tion process, it can be re­vealed, as it bal­ances out the flavours in tubs by cat­e­goris­ing choco­lates into three types, each of which make up one third of the to­tal.

The types are: fruit cremes, choco­lates and caramel/fudge. The Pur­ple One falls into the cat­e­gory with by far the most sweets, the “caramel/fudge” type, which also in­cludes the Caramel Swirl, Fudge, Tof­fee Penny, Co­conut Eclair, Tof­fee Deluxe and Tof­fee Finger.

Nes­tle ap­pears to be cash­ing in on its less-than-ideal flavour ra­tios by team­ing up with John Lewis to of­fer cho­co­late lovers the chance to fill a 1.2kg Qual­ity Street tub with their own hand-picked se­lec­tion of choco­lates.

Shop­pers can pick-and-mix any va­ri­eties of the sweet they like – but for £12 – nearly twice the price of a same-sized tin at Sains­bury’s, which costs £7.

Which? also ranked the flavours in tubs of Mars’s Cel­e­bra­tions, Cad­bury’s He­roes and Roses ac­cord­ing to pop­u­lar­ity, to de­ter­mine what pro­por­tion of each should make up the per­fect as­sort­ment.

Con­versely, it found fam­i­lies were less likely to fight over Roses as there were an abun­dance of Straw­berry Creams, the most pop­u­lar cho­co­late. This is be­cause the fruit cream cat­e­gory com­prises just two flavours (Straw­berry De­light and Orange Creme).

Cad­bury said it chooses a ran­dom se­lec­tion in tins of Roses which is “de­signed to be en­joyed by all”.

When it comes to Cel­e­bra­tions, there is good news for fans of Mal­teser Teasers, the most pop­u­lar, as Which? found it is one of the most abun­dant choco­lates with an av­er­age of 10 in each tub.

Mars also has a ran­dom se­lec­tion process for fill­ing tubs.

There was dis­ap­point­ment for fans of Cad­bury’s He­roes, as de­spite Wis­pas be­ing the most cov­eted, they had the fewest choco­lates per box, with

30 per cent rank­ing them as their favourite, but an av­er­age of 9 in a box.

Harry Rose, ed­i­tor of Which?, said: “Our anal­y­sis shows that it’s not your fam­ily’s fault that your favourite flavours dis­ap­pear from the tub so quickly: there re­ally are too few Pur­ple Ones to meet pop­u­lar de­mand.

“Of course, if you’re a fan of Straw­berry De­lights or Milky Ways, this will be wel­come news – you’re more likely to be eat­ing choco­lates into the New Year than Wispa lovers.” A spokesman for Nes­tle said: “We have in­creased the num­ber of peo­ple’s favourites in this year’s as­sort­ment. “Our re­search shows that the Caramel Swirl is the sweet with the broad­est ap­peal, but other stud­ies point to the Pur­ple One or the Straw­berry De­light. Part of the fun of Christ­mas is the fam­ily dis­cus­sion about each of our favourites and who gets the last sweet.” A Cad­bury spokesman said: “The mix for Roses and He­roes tubs are specif­i­cally hand-picked and we re­view the mix reg­u­larly to en­sure we are giv­ing our cus­tomers an as­sort­ment of the best cho­co­late that they love.

“How­ever, there can be some mi­nor de­vi­a­tions in the mix due to man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Mars Wrigley Con­fec­tionery, which makes Cel­e­bra­tions, said: “Ev­ery year we en­joy see­ing the de­bates rage about the na­tion’s favourite Cel­e­bra­tions.”

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