MANILA, Philippines — After warning consumers on the dangers of buying “the new” iPad, the Department of Trade and Industry has issued a new warning to eager buyers of Unilever’s Magnum ice cream after the government agency found out that the product was overpriced.
Magnum is one of the world’s leading ice cream brands, selling 1 billion units annually worldwide, and is the biggest brand of Unilever ice creams. Magnum is a “velvety smooth vanilla ice cream covered in thick cracking Belgian chocolate.
According to Trade & Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, their office received complaints from consumers, 2 weeks ago, complaining of the high price of the said product. “Although it was received with praise upon its launch, there are also quite a lot of consumers who deemed the price as too high,” revealed Domingo. He added, “consumers cannot justify a P50 price tag when jeepney fares have increased by 50 centavos.”
Labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has also joined the call for an investigation during a protest outside the ice cream maker’s office, where they claim that ordinary citizens cannot afford to buy one due to its expensiveness. It was also one of the factors that they decided to file a P90 wage hike petition, after Malacañang only approved of a P2.00 wage increase the other day.
Amid allegations of overpricing, Unilever Philippines expressed willingness to open their books for review last week. Together with members of the independent review committee (IRC) composing of individuals from various sectors in the community, DTI representatives reviewed all the numbers and data that was provided to them extensively.
A member of the IRC revealed that for the past five days, it would seem that everything was in order. “The calculations were spot-on and precise. Even the papers were free from any corrections.” The group was starting to lose hope.
But on the sixth day, a member found a breakthrough when he stumbled upon a binder labeled “TOP SECRET” hidden between papers containing boring chemical equations and calculations. One document titled Magnum Top Secret Components revealed what a serving of the ice cream is made of (see photo). It was obviously hidden deliberately and not intended to be shared to the public.
In another document, it revealed a sinister plan by the company to start a fad whereby consumers will take photos of themselves holding a Magnum. They would then boast of having eaten the ice cream to their friends by posting said photos on social networking sites.
But what surprised the IRC and the DTI representatives the most, was the discovery of a folded document that revealed that for every unit of Magnum, the suggested retail price (SRP) should only be P14.75 instead of P50. It pointed out that a higher entry point would make it seem that it is very special and exquisite when indeed, it is only a glorified, albeit a bigger version of Magnolia’s Pinipig from the early 80’s & 90’s.
It even explained in detail that the meaning of the word Magnum was actually “Magnolia Number 1” and the inventor of Magnum was a huge fan of the Pinipig during its heyday, hence the name.
DTI has since asked Unilever to rollback the price of Magnum to a much affordable price point, but the consumer goods company has yet to respond. Secretary Domingo was quick to point out that the government cannot force the manufacturer to lower the price because of an existing Ice Cream Deregulation Law (RA 8479-M), which states that:
It shall be the policy of the State to liberalize and deregulate the ice cream products industry in order to ensure a truly competitive market under a regime of fair prices, adequate and continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high-quality frozen products. To this end, the State shall promote and encourage the entry of new participants in the ice cream products industry, and introduce adequate measures to ensure the attainment of these goals.
(Taken and tweaked from Chan Robles Virtual Law Library)