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Can Multipack Items Be Separated?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 25 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Food Supermarket Shopping Food Shopping

Anyone who’s gone food shopping in the supermarket will undoubtedly have noticed that some items come in multipacks, with several of it item in a single, wrapped package. The outlay might be higher on, say a four-pack of baked beans than a single tin, but the price per tin will be lower.

Certainly, if you’re feeding a family, they can be a good value, since that multipack of crisps, for instance, will vanish quickly enough, or of soft drinks. In food terms they can represent excellent value. They’re in all manner of things – even those tomatoes packed together, or the pack of two lettuces in the produce department is really a multipack.

What Makes a Multipack?

The idea of putting several of the same item together in a pack and charging a little less per item isn’t a new one, it’s been around for decades. But it’s only in more recent years that it’s become more popular in supermarkets, and manufacturers have widened their scope to make them an important part of marketing, and the popularity has increased, too. Now it’s common to find a certain amount of supermarket shelf space given up to multipacks, be it of tins or cans of beer.

When Might You Want To Separate a Multipack?

If you’re shopping for food but just want a single item – it might be something you don’t use often, or something that would go off before you could go through an entire multipack – and there are none of the item singly, but multipacks on the supermarket shelf, you might be tempted to break one open and just take what you need. It’s certainly been done many times before. With produce, for instance, the supermarket employee might even help you.

The question is, perhaps, should you do it? In most instances, the answer is yes, as long as you’ve asked and there’s no more of the item available singly in the stockroom (don’t just rip open the multipack and take what you need). Then it’s fine, and the supermarket would probably be perfectly happy, as they’ll make a sale they might not otherwise have made, although they wouldn’t want it to be a common occurrence, since it would interfere with stock, and also with profits.

When Not To Separate a Multipack

These days, some items are made specifically for multipacks and can’t be sold separately. If you take a pack home and open it up, it will be on the tin or the packet. In those instances, it’s impossible to sell the items of food or drink individually, and the cashier won’t be able to put them through the checkout (you also see it with cigarettes sold in packs on 100 or 200 in the supermarket or elsewhere).

Why is it that way? The manufacturers set it, because although the unit cost might be a little lower in the supermarket, they’re selling more of the item in one shot, which is much better for them.

Of course, with produce it’s not a problem, nor with many items. But the next time you’re shopping for food and about to open up that multipack, just think – will you even be able to buy it singly? It’s best to ask a supermarket employee first.

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[Add a Comment]
I done my shopping at Tesco,got home and the one bag of monster munch says, multipack bag not to be sold for individual sale.can they do this or should I go back to tesco.
Tree - 25-Aug-17 @ 10:49 AM
Stuart - Your Question:
I have just eaten In an Indian restaurant and the bottles of Cobra lager had a label on saying "multi pack not to be sold seperate" but I was sold these bottle drinks separate at £2.95 each , far too expensive anyway , are they allowed to do this ???

Our Response:
Yes they are as long the relevant information (nutritional etc) is there for the consumer.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:44 PM
I have just eaten In an Indian restaurant and the bottles of Cobra lager had a label on saying "multi pack not to be sold seperate" but I was sold these bottle drinks separate at £2.95 each , far too expensive anyway , are they allowed to do this ???
Stuart - 2-Aug-17 @ 10:09 PM
my local school sell mult pack ice lollies individually are the allowed to ..
ali - 29-May-17 @ 7:41 PM
Business selling multi packet sweets, crisps and juice in vending machine and not advertising multi packets and NO SELLING THEM ANY CHEAPER!!!!!! MONEY GRABBERS ALL THE WAY!!!! THIS COMPANYNEEDS DONE FOR THIS FALSE ADVERTISING!!!!
Clare - 23-Feb-17 @ 5:17 PM
I've just gone in to a local mini store and paid 99p for a can of Heinz spaghetti the chap pretended to scan the item and then asked for 99p...when I got home I noticed on the label it's says "MULTIPACK" is this allowed?
Wiggy - 20-Feb-17 @ 2:45 PM
My works canteen sales lots of crisps and chocolate from vending machine..I noticed that they are all from multi packs which state not to be sold separately can asda do this
Ma - 26-Nov-16 @ 4:14 PM
Dave - Your Question:
I am the secretary of a social club who have purchased some 30 can multi packs of Coke Cola from JTF wholesaler we sell them to our members one who has said we can't sell them as they have part of a multipack. How do we stand on this matter are we allowed to sell them separate.Dave - 28-Oct-16 @ 5:48 PM

Our Response:
As long as each can contains the appropriate information (nutritional, weight etc) there is no problem with this.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 8-Nov-16 @ 10:46 AM
If I buy a packet of 8 KitKat can I sell them individually or not.It does not say anywhere on the packaging that these items should not be sold desperately.
shorts - 7-Nov-16 @ 4:04 PM
I am the secretary of a social club who have purchased some 30 can multi packs of Coke Cola from JTF wholesaler we sell them to our members one who has said we can't sell them as they have part of a multipack. How do we stand on this matter are we allowed to sell them separate. Dave - 28-Oct-16 @ 5:48 PM
Dave - 6-Nov-16 @ 11:41 AM
I am the secretary of a social club who have purchased some 30 can multi packs of Coke Cola from JTF wholesaler we sell them to our members one who has said we can't sell them as they have part of a multipack. How do we stand on this matter are we allowed to sell them separate.
Dave - 28-Oct-16 @ 5:48 PM
the link provided for the trading standards blog is broken. Please provide adequate information HERE on this site.
RG - 10-Oct-16 @ 10:35 PM
Makes no sense total contradicting advice above some saying legal others illegal
Bobthenob - 4-Sep-16 @ 8:03 PM
I bought two Magnums. On way home noticed difference in wrapping colours which seemed odd so decided to check date. Checked wrapper and it indicated "not to be sold individually." There were NO ingredients and NO sell by date. They are now eaten and tasted fine but what should be done?
mick - 27-Jul-16 @ 3:34 PM
The shop across the road from me splits multipacks.I went to buy a Magnum ice-cream yesterday and for starters it was tiny but was charged at full price.So what is the point of having a do not separate sign on products if you are not going to fine people for selling multi-pack items for the price of single items especially when they are smaller?
belintte - 23-Jul-16 @ 11:33 AM
J - Your Question:
I went into a shop today in Horsforth and purchased a Kellogg's Special K cereal bar with a price ticket of 60p on it. When I looked at the packaging it clearly said on it 'not to be sold seperately ' is this legal?

Our Response:
Yes, please see the responses to other comments below.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 5-Jul-16 @ 2:42 PM
I went into a shop today in Horsforth and purchased a Kellogg's Special K cereal bar with a price ticket of 60p on it. When I looked at the packaging it clearly said on it 'not to be sold seperately 'is this legal?
J - 4-Jul-16 @ 6:55 PM
Steve - Your Question:
Hi I understand the comments from the above questions for and against. However my local shop is selling multi pack chocolate I.e Mars bars, whispers etc at 60p and 70p and we all know multi bars are smaller, but we have noticed that the nutritional info is not on the wrappers. Is this still aloud!? Many Thanks

Our Response:
Nutritional information is recommended but not required by law. What IS required however, is a list of ingredients which you will usually find even in multipack items.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 29-Apr-16 @ 9:57 AM
Hi I understand the comments from the above questions for and against. However my local shop is selling multi pack chocolate I.e Mars bars, whispers etc at 60p and 70p and we all know multi bars are smaller, but we have noticed that the nutritional info is not on the wrappers. Is this still aloud!? Many Thanks
Steve - 27-Apr-16 @ 6:36 PM
D - Your Question:
Can a small business sell multi packs in singles? For example.12 pack of walkers crisps £1.591.59/12 = 0.13Then a shop sells them for 0.60p which is the average This is much cheaper than wholesale prices and a great help to these small sandwich shops etc.I hear it is more a moral decision than a legal one.

Our Response:
As long as all the requisite information (nutritional info, sell by date etc) is included on each individual pack, there is no real law to prevent this.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 15-Apr-16 @ 2:35 PM
Can a small business sell multi packs in singles? For example. 12 pack of walkers crisps £1.59 1.59/12 = 0.13 Then a shop sells them for 0.60p which is the average This is much cheaper than wholesale prices and a great help to these small sandwich shops etc. I hear it is more a moral decision than a legal one.
D - 13-Apr-16 @ 5:47 PM
What is the point in putting the 'not to be sold separately' banner on cans of coke if they are then allowed to be sold separately? After reading the comment above from Olive I am disgusted to think that it is ok for companies to do that. I understand they need to make their money but why not buy in bulk at a normal rate where they can make money rather than buying them even cheaper in a multipack and then selling to the consumer (us!!) for a lot higher than we would normally pay! Seeing a bright red banner on a can saying that suggests selling them individually is wrong! So why does this article say this is ok!!
Han - 20-Aug-15 @ 10:27 PM
@Olive. Yes it's legal...check out this this Trading Standards Blog
ConsumerRightsExpert - 14-Jan-15 @ 12:30 PM
I have recently visited a social club and been sold a glass of coke poured from a multipak tin and was charged £1.50 for it.Also a packet of crips which were from a multi pack for 60p.Is this legal?
Olive - 12-Jan-15 @ 2:39 PM
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