Peanut butter flavour Tim Tams, made by Arnott’s, came under the microscope after the Australian consumer magazine discovered the new flavour contained absolutely no peanut butter, had two fewer biscuits and 35g less per pack, and cost the same as a regular packet.
“Not that you would suspect being short-changed, as the package size has remained the same,” Choice remarked.
Quoted by Fairfax Media, Arnott’s responded by saying its Tim Tam bakery does not handle nut-containing products. "We did not want to introduce this serious allergen due to the risk of contamination to other Tim Tam products.”
Nobody’s getting any younger
The awards also paid tribute to the S-26 Gold Toddler and Junior milk drinks, which are being marketed to parents concerned about ensuring that their children receive appropriate nutrients, despite the fact that the ingredients it contains aren't needed for healthy children over the age of one.
The product was shamed for its marketing goal of "keep[ing] mums buying with our extended range of nutritious milk drinks”.
Choice criticised the baby formula maker for encouraging parents to stick with the line of products when health experts recommend slowly shifting kids to solids after they turn one.
“The Choice Shonky Awards put the spotlight on products and services that are sneaky, slippery, unscrupulous and sometimes unsafe. The risk of receiving an infamous Shonky encourages businesses to sharpen up their act and put consumers first,” said Choice chief executive, Alan Kirkland.
Hall of shame
“This year we had a record 1,041 Shonky nominations from across Australia, which highlights the level of consumer concern about shonky products and services.”
Last year, the “Shonkiest Shonky" people’s choice award was given to Ecoeggs by a landslide victory.
“With a high ‘free-range’ stocking density, sky-high price, and questionable ‘eco’ credentials, the Shonkys have shined a light on Ecoeggs' stocking densities, and consumers are in a flap,” said Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey.
The Oats Express liquid breakfast pack also made an appearance in 2013. Choice said: “We would argue that the name Oats Express, along with the picture of whole rolled oats, suggests it contains whole rolled oats, not just oat fibre. While it lives up to its claim of ‘the same amount of fibre, protein and calcium as a bowl of oats and low fat milk’—albeit a rather small serve of oats—it doesn’t quite live up to its name and image.
Other, non-food, products in this year’s limelight include Bankwest, “which offers a high, teaser interest rate for their children's savings account before slashing the rate after a year”, Commonwealth Bank, which “offered up a slick PR campaign apologising for the failure, but at the same time lobbied to water down financial advice protections that could protect consumers in the future”, and the Amazon Paperwhite, which received a Shonky for “for some creative accounting meant to convince consumers that one charge of the e-reader would provide eight weeks of battery life. Buried in the fine print was the fact that the Kindle's claims were based on thirty minutes of use per day, meaning the actual battery life is 28 hours.”