Have you seen the price of movie candy lately? In Boston, AMC Theatres charges $3.99 to $4.49 for a box with just 3.5 to 5.5 ounces of candy inside. Yikes.
These boxes have come under scrutiny lately because of several class action lawsuits against major manufacturers. Shoppers allege they were misled by the packaging which makes it look like there is a lot of candy in the box, but in reality, most are only about half full.
Here is a story about it by Jeff Rossen, NBC’s investigative reporter on the Today Show (with MrConsumer at the end).
Click to watch video
When manufacturers over-package a product creating empty space inside that has no function other than to make consumers think they are getting more for their money than they really are, that is called slack fill, and it’s illegal under federal law (and the law of some states). It is not illegal if the empty space is needed because of settling of the product, or because the machinery to fill the package requires it, or the space is needed to protect the product (such as the cushioning pillow created by large potato chips bags).
Here’s another example not part of a lawsuit. This is a huge box of Bazooka bubble gum — maybe six or seven inches long and over an inch thick. Sure looks like it has a lot of gum inside.
But when you stack up the contents, you get much less than meets the eye given the size of the box.
Although the net weight is on the package, and fine print on the back says there are “about 19” pieces inside (there were 18 in this box), the FDA and courts have ruled that having the net weight on the package is an independent requirement separate from the requirement not to use deceptive packaging.