Brexit – the source of all problems?

A few weeks ago half of Britain went into meltdown over the prospect of the price of Marmite going up, while the other half wondered why anyone would pay for the stuff in the first place.

Unilever were blaming the increase in price on Brexit. Apparently they had to compensate for the higher cost of ingredients since the pound had fallen following the referendum. However, it was soon pointed out that the ingredients for Marmite are produced in Britain.

Surely Unilever wouldn’t use Brexit as an excuse…

The Toblerone trials

Today, we have the so-called “Brexit Toblerone”; the latest Toblerones have less chocolate in them, and it’s being blamed on Brexit.

Mondelez (the company behind the Toblerone) haven’t blamed the change on Brexit, but they didn’t have to…

Consider what the Spectator had to say about the new Toblerone. Apparently, the change symbolises the decline of modern capitalism. All because of Brexit…

“Even the most ardent Brexiters would agree that an 18 per cent slide in the value of the pound vs the dollar can cause problems for an international company, buying ingredients on the global commodities markets (in dollars) and selling the finished product in the UK.”

Meanwhile, the Guardian was feeling rueful: “The Brexit Toblerone sums up 2016: more troughs than peaks“.

Across the Channel, French Newspaper La Tribune also got into the act, publishing an article entitled, “The Toblerone bar reduced in size thanks to Brexit“.

The facts of the matter

In all three cases the analysis was mistaken.

In an article entitled “Brits blame strange new Toblerone shape on Brexit”, the Washington Post reported that Mondelez had been planning to make the change “long before the Brexit referendum”. Furthermore, “the company had already reduced the size of one Toblerone bar sold worldwide from 400 grams to 360 grams.”

According to the Financial Times, “the main factor behind the change was the 2015 rise in the Swiss franc that had driven up costs for Toblerone, which manufactures exclusively in Switzerland”.

“A Mondelez spokesman pointed out that the company has benefited from the fall in the pound as it buys cocoa priced in sterling”.

The moral? If you don’t blame it on Brexit someone else will.

EDIT (9.11.16)

La Tribune corrected its article in response to this piece. The article is now entitled: “The Toblerone bar is reduced in size, but it isn’t because of Brexit“.

The author goes on to say apologise for his mistake:

Original: “Il semble si facile de lier ce changement au Brexit – et La Tribune, à l’image d’autres médias, a succombé à la tentation”

Translation: “It seems so easy to link the change [in the Toblerone bar] to Brexit – and La Tribune has fallen into just that trap – as have other media outlets”.