Richard Lemmer | 06.04.12
Where does a good Easter egg hunt begin? Most children, sweetly innocent, assume that for some reason a giant rabbit with no appreciation of recession austerity has managed to misplace his precious eggs. Most parents know the hunt begins in the shops, weighing up the choice between their children’s favourite brand and their own shopping budget. Like a lot of holidays, Easter has been saturated by extravagant products, with business safe in the knowledge the holiday mood will lead to sales. But are the big chocolate businesses growing too complacent? And exactly how many egg based puns can you get away with in a blog post?
Easter egg hunters are growing more environmentally aware. Jo Swinson, Lib-Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, has released her sixth annual Easter Egg Packaging Report. The findings would not make the Easter bunny a happy bunny. “A few manufacturers are hiding behind green credentials with packaging that isn't easily recyclable by the majority of consumers, " Jo told the Daily Telegraph. ''Manufacturers know that their plastic boxes aren't widely recycled and yet they continue to use them, despite other companies showing how Easter eggs can be packaged with a mind to efficiency and recyclability.” When it comes to non-recyclable and egg-sesive packing, the reports highlights Marks and Spencers, Thorntons and Sainsbury’s as particularly bad eggs.
However, some brands are beginning to show that when it comes to packaging and the environment, you don‘t have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. Cadbury’s has launched Treasure Egg, an Easter egg with no packaging, just a foil wrapper; and Nestle have created news by being the first major brand to package all of its UK and Ireland Easter eggs with recyclable materials. After Swinson’s report, every brand with egg on its face has been quick to show they are reducing their environmental impact, but Nestle and Cadbury stand out with clear and effective solutions to the packaging problem. Sure, 91% of M&S food is packaged with recyclable materials, but that missing 8% is a niggling number that stops the brand from being newsworthy and weakens its ethical claims.
But the hunt doesn’t stop with environmentally friendly packaging. Is the egg’s chocolate Fairtrade? The majority of brands are conitunting to be hit-and-miss in this area, even though Fairtrade sales increased by 12% last year. Divine and Green and Black’s, which also scores highly for reduced packing, offer an extensive range of Fairtrade chocolate eggs.
Finally, the hunt comes down to budget. Unfortunately, major brands are telling the consumer to suck eggs when it comes to keeping prices down in a time of recession. An egg made by Nestle, profit of £34 billion, sold by Tesco, profit over well over a billion, was £4.99 two years ago - now its £7. And as ethical as Green and Black’s is, a family struggling to budget could not afford their Easter eggs. This is despite the cost of making the chocolate eggs falling in the last year, according to one survery. Its arrogance to assume that people won’t find alternative ways to get their chocolate jollies at Easter.
If the big brands continue to ignore the struggling but environmentally conscious Easter egg hunter, how long before people take the Ecologist's advice and make their own eggs?
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