My yoghurt battle with big supermarkets

March 19, 2021, 9 Comments

Yoghurt is a mess right now. It’s my staple breakfast, either with fruit or as the main part of Birchermüesli (I know, very Swiss), but Coop and Migros are both driving me nuts. Why? It’s all about consumer choice and customer service.

I only buy ‘bio’ (that is, organic) yoghurt and usually get the 500g pots. Purely because we eat a lot of it, it’s cheaper per gram and one pot is less plastic. But both Coop and Migros severely limit the varieties they sell in these bigger ‘family’ pots. Why? Because the twin-packs of small tubs are more expensive, so they make more money.

For years Coop has had precisely four versions of bio yoghurt in big pots but 12 or more in the twin-packs. If you want anything other than plain, strawberry, vanilla or apricot, your only choice is to pay more: 44 Rappen per 100g instead of 39, or 13% extra. All so you can enjoy blackberry or plum or chocolate yoghurt (or coconut, if you must).

Migros is worse, with only three flavours offered in family pots – plain, raspberry and Birchermüesli – yet many more in smaller tubs, and yes, with much the same price mark-up. We must pay more for the same product differently packaged.

It’s not only the price but the plastic, which cannot be recycled yet in Switzerland. For 500g of yoghurt, instead of one pot going into the rubbish, you have three smaller tubs. To add insult to injury, Coop has now removed the reusable lid from the big pots, trumpeting it as ‘20% less plastic’. Well-meant, no doubt, but what a crazy idea!

Instead of a practical closeable lid, you now have a flimsy film that does not re-seal, so either you have to eat all 500g at once or you have to decant it. For Coop, it’s not really about saving plastic, it’s designed to make you buy twin-packs of individual tubs. Less choice, more money. At least Migros manages a sensible design for the lids on the big pots.

I once asked both supermarkets why they sell so few flavours in the larger pots. Both said there was no customer demand for it. What nonsense! They sell so many flavours, they could try some in larger pots but simply don’t want to lose money. Because yoghurt is big business – the average person in Switzerland eats 18kg a year, most of it bought in these two shops.

It’s a first-world problem, I know, and yes I could mix jam or compote with plain yoghurt, but there’s nothing more annoying than big companies paying lip-service to both customers and the environment. All in the name of profit. So Coop and Migros, maybe it’s time to change and offer customers more choice for less money. Why not have six flavours in bigger pots?

As for the lid problem… I buy cottage cheese, which comes in the same size pot, and re-use the lid on my yoghurt pot.

9 Comments on "My yoghurt battle with big supermarkets"

  1. Gaby Douglas Friday March 19th, 2021 at 04:18 PM · Reply

    I love my yogurt too. I can kind of understand the bigger range of smaller pottles because they make great lunchbox fillers. But the amount of non-recyclables used doesn’t fit with the Naturaplan mission for sure. And, as you say, we don’t get a choice and profit seems to win decision making every time. I am more upset though about where some of the ingredients for Naturaplan products come from. Have you looked at the Ramseier Huettentee for example? Last time I looked the sugar was imported from Paraguay, the lemon juice from Italy, other ingredients from Egypt, Poland Hungary and Bulgaria. Oh and a few apple pieces from Switzerland. I guess what I am trying to say is that there are a few things that really don’t ring true for Coop’s bio range.

    • Diccon Bewes Friday March 19th, 2021 at 05:48 PM · Reply

      I get the lunchbox thing but really 12-15 flavours vs 3? It seems crazy. And I never understand people who buy bio fruit that’s been flown in from Peru or Chile. Better to wait for the local season and buy it then.

    • PB Wednesday April 21st, 2021 at 08:58 PM · Reply

      Well, lemon juice from Italy seems sensible enough, that’s not too far away and I don’t think lemons grow in Switzerland (on a a commercially viable scale). Sugar certainly doesn’t need to be imported from Paraguay, there is enough Swiss sugar (made from sugar beets), but probably that’s too expensive for Coop… Something is wrong when it’s cheaper to import stuff from all over the world than to use locally produced ingredients.

  2. Giuliana Saturday March 20th, 2021 at 08:52 AM · Reply

    Hello, have you seen that coop now sells reusable lids to close the pots? In two sizes for small and big. I just noticed them on Friday because they were price reduced. They were in the fridge alongside the yogurts, but I have alternatives at home so I have not tested them.
    I agree about the flavors, they could offer more. And for consumer choice and sustainability well, it’s not easy, I try to buy following my principles and sometimes it takes lots of energy and attention to detail.

    • Diccon Bewes Sunday March 21st, 2021 at 09:41 AM · Reply

      I hadn’t noticed that but will look. Actually, that means it is just a way to make more money. Separate the lid and sell it separately!

      • Ociore Sunday April 4th, 2021 at 09:24 PM · Reply

        Did you find the lids, by any chance?
        Could you share your experience with those?
        I’m on your same boat regarding the yogurts…. except that I do not have any lid from the cottage cheese to use… and now they even get rid of that ones too! 🙁

        • Diccon Bewes Friday April 9th, 2021 at 08:45 AM · Reply

          I did find reusable lids in my local Coop. They fit perfectly on the large pots!

        • Diccon Bewes Wednesday May 12th, 2021 at 01:20 PM · Reply

          My Coop now sells re-usable lids in the right size. they are next to the yoghurt pots so have a look in your Coop

  3. Nina - Expat Services Switzerland Wednesday April 21st, 2021 at 09:48 AM · Reply

    I totally understand your struggle. Why does the supermarket make your lives so much harder when trying to buy bio?
    But I love Coop for selling reusable lids for the big and the small yogurts.

Leave a Comment to Gaby Douglas