“Fake” foods cost up to 62% less and confuse consumers

The rise in food prices made consumers look for alternatives to keep the amount of food on the table. ÇWith this, by-products are increasingly present on supermarket shelves. These are the cases of whey, curd with corn starch and a series of foods that no longer contain the product itself, to contain the “product based on” or “product flavored”.

This week, the metropolises visited five supermarkets in the federal capital to compare prices and understand if it is possible to save money while still having nutritious food.

The report covered establishments in Taguatinga, Guará and Cruzeiro, administrative regions of the Federal District. In all, products dubbed “fakes” were present. The price variation reaches 68%. The list considered seven foods with the same amount and brands known by the consumer.

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ANDWhilst whole condensed milk costs R$9.99, the condensed milk mixture with whey and starch is much cheaper: R$5.99. That is, the like product is 40% cheaper.

Powdered chocolate has the sharpest price change. Two hundred grams of soluble chocolate powder costs R$ 19.49. The powdered chocolate food, in the same amount, costs R$ 4.99 — 74% less.

However, replacing it is not always so advantageous. Powdered milk also has variations. While the original product sells for R$19.99, the variation, called a dairy compound with fibers, costs R$16.99. Savings reach 15%. The same trend is observed between yogurt and fermented milk drink.

See the difference between the products compared by metropolises:

  • Creamy curd with cheese (R$9.99) x Mixed curd and starch (R$4.99): 50% cheaper
  • Platter of Wholemeal Yogurt with Fruit (R$5.89) x Fermented Milk Drink (R$4.99): 15% cheaper
  • Standard Minas cheese (R$ 94.90/kg) x Fresh cheese with whey (R$ 35.99/kg): 62% cheaper
  • Bee honey (R$ 27.99) x A food based on corn glucose (R$ 18.99): 32% cheaper
  • Whole condensed milk (R$9.99) x Condensed milk mixture with whey and starch (R$5.99): 40% cheaper
  • Whole milk powder (R$ 19.99) x Dairy compound with fibers (R$ 16.99): 15% cheaper
  • Whole yogurt (R$5.89) x Fermented milk drink (R$4.99): 15.2% cheaper

Consumers have to be careful when making their choice. Paying cheaper can mean savings, but in practice, you’re getting similar products instead of the originals.

Manufacturers are required to indicate the composition on labels and the food manufacturing processes. Brazilian laws are clear about what each food is. Chocolate, for example, to be classified as such, the product must have at least 25% cocoa.

Nutritional value

Thaiz Brito, nutritionist graduated from the Catholic University of Brasília and columnist for the metropolises, warns that consumers should pay attention to labels to know exactly what they are bringing to the table. “Be aware of the ingredients on the nutritional table”, he summarizes.

She cites as an example the substitution of milk for whey in derivatives of the product that are commonly cheaper.

“Whey is obtained from the production of milk, as a residual liquid from the transformation of milk into cheese. It has nutrients similar to milk. It is the liquid part that is left over when coagulation takes place to make cheese. However, it does not have the fatty part of milk. Rich in calcium, protein, phosphorus, minerals and B vitamins”, he concludes.

Carolina Rosa de Siqueira, nutritionist specializing in women’s health and aesthetic nutrition, explains that the effects of this change in the diet are serious. “The impact of this on food is the consumption of ingredients that do not have the same nutritional value as proposed. For example, instead of being high in protein, it’s low in protein, high in fat.”

She points out that even the processing can be different in these cases. “This has an impact on food and consequently on health, because the person is consuming a product and, in fact, speaking in the nutritional sense, it is not that.”

Sports nutritionist Isabela Zago points out that it is essential that the industry does not try to hide the actual composition of the product.

“People have to know what they are consuming. So if she buys a dairy drink, she’s not going to be buying a product of the same quality as yogurt, which is actually made from whole milk,” she explains. “They reduce the nutrients and the concentration of the product so that it has a greater profitability, a longer shelf life, putting more chemical product.”

high inflation

Luiz Alberto Machado, economist at the Faculty of Economics of the Armando Alvares Penteado Foundation (FAAP) and advisor to the Federal Council of Economics (Cofecon), explains that the greater presence of these foods on the shelves is a reflection of the increase in inflation.

In recent months, he observes Luiz Alberto, the cost of production increased because of several factors, such as the war in Ukraine, which left the market unstable. Milk, vegetables, fruits, meats and other foods became more expensive.

“In Brazil, we have a combination of factors, such as loss of quality of employment, work, drop in income. In this scenario, there is a situation of loss of quality of life. People are resorting to habits they didn’t have in normal times. We saw families buying chicken skin, for example. This shows that food security is further away”, he analyzes.

The expert points out that the families of classes C and D are the ones that most resort to this type of product. “Always on these occasions, the low-income group is the most affected”, he concludes.