Kenco think we are all stupid- 'unsweetened' coffee contains almost 40% sugar
You are all (fairly) normal people aren't you? What does “unsweetened” mean to you? Without sugar? Without sweeteners? Without sweetness?
According to the online version of the OED, it means “(of food or drink) without sugar or a similar substance having been added.” Which is fairly simple and more or less self-explanatory. However, if you are Kenco Coffee, unsweetened means something entirely different. We are just not sure quite what.
We were contacted by a number of avid and disgruntled Bitterwallet readers, including the lovely Paolo, who had purchased Kenco Cappuccino coffee. The unsweetened version. You can imagine their surprise when the first listed ingredient (remembering that ingredients are listed in size order) was glucose syrup. The second highest ingredient was lactose, a milk sugar. And even though “unsweetened” means “without sugar”, sugar itself is listed as one of the ingredients further down the list. In fact, the nutritional information table tells us that the unsweetened cappuccino coffee is actually 37% sugar.
We were confused. We thought this was probably misleading. We checked the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which clearly state, under regulation 5 (misleading actions) that “a commercial practice is a misleading action if it… contains false information and is therefore untruthful … or if it or its overall presentation in any way deceives or is likely to deceive the average consumer in relation to any of the matters in that paragraph, even if the information is factually correct; and… it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise.”
The regulation goes on to suggest areas in which false information might be presented, which includes “the main characteristics of the product”, specifically the “benefits of the product” and the “composition of the product” among other things. We feel, therefore, that the Office of Fair Trading ought to clamp down on this shocking misrepresentation of the word “unsweetened”.
We did contact Kraft (who own Kenco) to ask them how they might define a product that was almost 1 part sugar to 2.5 parts anything else as unsweetened, but they were unable to come up with an answer.
So shall we report them? What do you think?