We all want value for money, whether we’re scooping up the ‘two for one’ offers in the local supermarket or shopping for our horses’ needs. But as a recent TV consumer programme proved, we have to be careful.

This showed the strategies, or tricks – delete where applicable, depending on your viewpoint – that manufacturers use to lull us into a false sense of security and how what seems like a bargain doesn’t always live up to its name.

I can’t be the only person struggling to work out how prices per kg relate to prices per ml, or to wonder if it really is my imagination when prices remain the same but product sizes seem to shrink! Or maybe it’s my age and the idea that chocolate bars have got smaller is on a par with police officers seemingly getting younger.

The same applies when you’re shopping for horse essentials. Marketing ploys are getting cleverer by the minute and I was really impressed when a well-known feed manufacturer announced that it was launching a great value feed that looked to be just the job for my two horses.

I sat down and compared the nutritional analysis with that of the feed I’m already buying, and was able to tick that box. Then I checked availability, and ticked another.

But hang on a minute….Suddenly, I realised that this feed was packaged not in 20 kg bags, but in 15 kg ones. When I worked out the cost per kg, it didn’t offer the value implied in the marketing cybershots.

There’s nothing illegal or, I suppose, underhand in this. It’s up to us to keep our wits about us and not be tempted to ‘impulse buy.’

Talking to manufacturers about this, I also discovered that many buy products from the same suppliers, which they then package and distribute under their own brand names. Nothing wrong with this, either!

But when they all pay the same wholesale price and the price tag on one company’s product is much higher than that on another’s, are they taking the Mickey or are horse owners being stupid by buying the more expensive option?

It’s great to find names you can trust, but I’m certainly going to be more selective from now on. I’ve always looked at the list of what’s in the packaging rather than the name on the product, but from now on, I’ll be even more careful.

Perhaps manufacturers should also be more careful. It takes a long time to build up customer loyalty, but only a moment to lose it.