Long read

Easter 2024: Trends, new product launches and cocoa prices

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Food Manufacture unwraps the Easter 2024 market. Credit: Getty/Bruno Netto
Food Manufacture unwraps the Easter 2024 market. Credit: Getty/Bruno Netto

Related tags Trends Climate change allergens Supermarket

Food Manufacture cracks open Easter NPD, relaying the key trends for 2024 – from experimental flavours, to flat eggs, and free-from innovation – and looks at how unique weather events are impacting Brits’ pockets.

This year, 44.5m people will celebrate Easter with an estimated £2bn to be spent across Britain.

A key part of the festivities is, of course, Easter eggs – in fact, it’s estimated that, as a nation, we buy between 80-90m of them every year.

Chocolates at Easter contribute to 10% of Britain's overall spend on chocolate, according to packaging business GWP Group. Although recent economic turbulence has seen us being more mindful of our pennies, with spend down in the UK by 8% between 2019 and 2020.

This trend continued into the next year, with 2021 seeing a further decline, and figures only slightly recovering in 2022 but remaining below pre-pandemic levels. 

Mondelēz

Cadbury’s Creme Egg sharer bars

Among the nation’s favourite confectioners this time of year is Mondelēz International, which is home to the likes of Cadbury’s Creme Egg and Mini Eggs.

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, Mondelēz experienced its most successful Easter ever last year, which its trade communications manager, Susan Nash, said was a result of its “strong line-up”.

“Cadbury Creme Egg had its first ever innovation – Cadbury White Creme Egg – which became the number one new product in the market for the season, while our new Surprise & Delight Shell Eggs were the number one new range,”​ Nash told Food Manufacture. “All these products are returning for Easter 2024.”

With NPD a key part of Mondelēz’s strategy for the season, it has launched a series of new products, including a Creme Egg sharer bar.

“One in four households buy into the Cadbury Creme Egg brand during Easter, helping it to achieve an incredible brand awareness of 95% and deliver strong sales for retailers,” ​Nash said. “The launch sees the combination of one of the UK’s favourite Easter SKUs, Cadbury Creme Egg, and the iconic Cadbury heartland tablet format, which is perfect for both sharing and self-treat occasions.

Cadbury’s Mini Eggs and fresh bakery

2023 was also a good year for its brand of mini eggs which grew by 19%.

“While evidently an ideal seasonal treat, we’ve increasingly seen shoppers whipping up delicious baked goods, creating memories with loved ones. As well as this, and following the success and launch of the Cadbury Mini Eggs Bar, a 360g gifting format joins the portfolio this year, available nationwide for the first time.”

Cadbury's Mini Eggs Cookies
Cadbury's Mini Eggs Cookies

European bakery products manufacturer Baker & Baker, which operates an exclusive fresh bakery licensing partnership with Mondelēz to manufacture and distribute fresh bakery products, across key European markets, has also launched a new Cadbury’s Mini Eggs Chocolate Cookie.

The limited-edition cookie has been created to build excitement up to Easter and is based fresh in-store. It combines Cadbury’s chocolate cookie dough which is then packed with micro mini eggs.

This is the first time that Baker & Baker has utilised the Cadbury’s Mini Eggs brand within fresh bakery.

The European baker has said that seasonality is becoming more prominent within the fresh bakery category.

Easter is a key time for retailers thanks to an expanded sales period, which starts as early as January, and longer lead times into the Easter break.

Cadbury’s Marble Egg gets seal of approval

Cadbury’s has also seen a range of ‘higher tier gifting’ for its shell eggs this year. This includes the Cadbury Ultimate Egg Range, with features gold foil and enhanced packaging.

The Cadbury Ultimate Egg line includes classics such as Mini Egg and Fruit and Nut, along with new combinations such as the Cadbury Dairy Milk & White Marble Egg.

During market research for the marble egg, it was found that 84% of those surveyed would either definitely or probably buy the product.

Each product within the range also includes a ‘portionable’ element for shoppers. For example, the Cadbury Mini Eggs Ultimate Egg includes a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs; and the new marble egg, chunks of Cadbury Dairy Milk and Cadbury White Chocolate.

Unusually shaped eggs - Toblerone and Divine

Easter 2024 has also seen the rollout of the Toblerone Edgy Egg, constructed of faceted triangular sides, containing signature Toblerone nougat pieces, all wrapped in gold foil.

Meanwhile, farmer-owned, Fairtrade chocolatier, Divine, has launched the ‘Flat Egg’.

Retaining the same shape and size as a classic Easter Egg, but using 40% less packaging, the Flat Egg range is available in two flavours. This includes the 70% dark chocolate with raspberry offering, and a smooth milk chocolate, caramel and crunch version. Each egg features a generous slice of Divine’s signature 100% Fairtrade chocolate.

“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, so we’re proud to be launching our range of Flat Eggs, which are both more environmentally friendly than a boxed Easter Egg, as well as being the perfect solution to letter box gifting,”​ said Sophie Loveday-Davies, group marketing director at Divine.

Divine has also launched a limited-edition hot cross bun bar. The Joyful Hot Cross Bar features milk chocolate, studded with raisins and spiced biscuit pieces.

“Our limited-edition Hot Cross Bun Bar taps into consumer demand for nostalgic sweet treats, combining the classic flavours of Easter in one delicious bite,” ​she added.

Luxurious Easter treats

Lindt

Lindt has sprung into action this Easter with a series of new-look bunnies in a range of sizes and flavours.

This includes the salted caramel bunny, with is dressed in the ironic Lindt gold foil and bell but features a new, distinctive blue ribbon. The salted caramel flavour has also been incorporated into a new gold bunny egg.

The famous chocolate bunny has also been released in a new flower packaging in honour of the spring season, and (back in its original gold foil) as a new sharable chocolate bar (120g) format.

This year has seen the chocolatier launch its Lindt LINDOR Raspberry & Cream Easter Egg (260g), containing Lindt Milk Chocolate Egg and Lindor raspberry and cream truffles. This is an exclusive to Asda and Lindt chocolate shops.

Also new for 2024 is the Lindor 70% Dark Chocolate Easter Egg (260g) which contains 70% cocoa truffles.

Asda

Meanwhile, discounter retailer Asda has delved into the realms of premium, launching its first ever luxury showstopper easter egg – Cocoa Noir.

Formed of two layers, the blonde inner egg features a metallic bronze glaze, encased in an outer egg made from single origin Peruvian dark chocolate and a layer of hazelnut Gianduja.

Commenting, Asda’s product development manager for confectionary, Sarah Burns, said: “More shoppers are embracing dark chocolate eggs than ever before.”

She continued: “Having been made from the highest quality single-origin Peruvian dark chocolate, the egg is layered with decadent Gianduja sure to delight fans of hazelnut and praline.”

Cocoa Noir forms part of Asda’s 2024 Easter range, which includes its Extra Special Extra Thick Honeycomb, Pretzel and Caramel Milk Chocolate Egg. This is blend of Belgian milk chocolate infused with sea salted caramel flavour and scattered with caramel, honeycomb and pretzel pieces.

For those with a penchant for white chocolate, the range also features the Asda Extra Special Raspberry & Marshmallow White Chocolate Egg.

Experimental flavours and fun textures

Nestlé

Nestlé announced the return of After Eight​ Premium Egg as part of its premium offering. This includes a dark chocolate shell and a pack of signature After Eight​ mint chocolate thins (400g).

Meanwhile, in a first for the brand, Rowntree’s will meet Nestlé chocolate to create a shell with marshmallow pieces and Rowntree’s fruity flavoured sweets, complete with a bag of Rowntree's Randoms (470g). 

This forms part of Nestlé's Incredible Eggs launch, which also includes a Quality Street offering - fudge and caramel pieces in a milk chocolate caramel-flavoured shell, accompanied by a pack of Quality Street caramel, fudge and toffees. 

Nestle Easter eggs 2024
Nestle's line-up for 2024

Nestle has also launched the Smarties Sea Splash, a milk chocolate egg with two packs of Sea Splash Smarties, a cut out crafting activity, and a QR code unlocking a world of aquatic activities.

The company has also brought back some of its KitKat eggs, including the KitKat Chunky Half and Half Giant Egg, which is made of half milk chocolate and half white chocolate and two KitKat Chunky bars of both flavours (230g).

KitKat Caramel Cookie Collision Incredible Egg is also back (512.7g). Real cookie pieces sit in a milk chocolate shell and the pack comes with two KitKat Chunky Caramel bars and a bag of KitKat Cookie Dough flavour Mini Eggs.

New for this year for the KitKat brand is the Easter Egg Hunt pack; this contains eight milk chocolate Easter eggs made with signature KitKat crunch wafer pieces. It joins the Smarties and Milkybar egg hunt packs. 

The Milkybar Mini Egg Block has made a return too, featuring mini crunchy milk chocolate eggs dotted inside a white chocolate bar.  

Hames Chocolates

Lincolnshire-based private label chocolate supplier, Hames Chocolates, has also jumped onto the trend for luxury, revealing its premium boxed chocolate eggs, hot chocolate stirrers.

However, the supplier has also been looking at more experimental flavours and consumer experience, with novelty seasonal milk chocolate treats, including lollipops and Neapolitans, and even a hot cross bun stirrer.   

Hot Cross Bun chocolate stirrers from Hames Chocolates
Hames Chocolate's hot cross bun inspired stirrers

“Our Easter collection reflects a number consumer trends including indulgent treats, unexpected flavours and sustainable ingredients and packaging, meaning it will appeal to a wide audience of chocolate lovers, while delivering strong margins for retailers,”​ said the firm’s managing director, Carol Oldbury.

The Hot Cross Bun Hot Chocolate Stirrer (35g) makes real hot chocolate when added to hot milk and is packaged with a brown twist tie bow and contemporary swing tag.

Cocoba

Elsewhere, Kent-based chocolate company, Cocoba, has also been experimenting, with products including a Golden Caramel Egg, Jazzie Milk Egg, and Candy-Coated Egg.

The Golden Caramel Egg encompasses golden caramel in a Belgian milk chocolate egg, while the Jazzie Egg is topped with rainbow sprinkles. It also comes in a dairy-free alternative.

Cocoba’s Candy-Coated Egg, meanwhile, is covered in candy chocolate beans and comes in either milk or white chocolate.

It is also among the brands which has launched a giant egg, with its own offering weighing in at 4kg.

Waitrose

Waitrose has also been keen to ‘try something new’, with a raft of elaborate and funky flavours coming through its launches. This includes hot honey, pistachio, blonde chocolate, and chocolate with sourdough.

The retailer has added three new products to the No.1 range. The ‘star of the show’ is its No.1 The Cracking Pistachio.

Pistachio egg
Waitrose's pistachio egg saw its debut this Easter

Taking inspiration from the pistachio nut, this egg has two shells. An outer blonde shell, which once cracked open reveals an inner pistachio shell. The egg is 305g but for those looking for a smaller (and spicier) treat, the No.1 Hot Honey Hatchlings come in at 103g.

The No.1 Speckled Bird Box Eggs is its third offering in the range, filled with malt flavour ganache and a crunchy layer of chocolate with sourdough breadcrumbs.

Many of these textures and flavours have also been the subject of Co-Op NPD, with the launch of its Irresistible Fairtrade Chocolate Honeycomb Egg (180g). The dark chocolate is studded with crunchy honeycomb inclusions and blended with blonde chocolate and a hint of salt. Each egg has a unique finish, so no two are the same.  

Tony's Chocolonely 

This year has also seen Tony’s Chocolonely bring back its Easter range. This includes its limited-edition lemon meringue bars, packed with meringue pieces (made from free-range eggs) and a hint of lemon. As with Tony’s usual bars, these are divided into unequally sized chunks to create a dynamically structured bar.

The Easter bars have hit stores alongside Tony’s Egg-stra Special Chocolate Eggs. Available in pouches or in a playful egg carton, Tony’s Egg-Stra Special Chocolate Eggs are small, solid versions of Tony’s best-selling classic bar flavours. This includes milk chocolate 32%, milk caramel sea salt, milk hazelnut, milk almond honey nougat, dark milk 42%, pretzel toffee, dark 51% almond sea salt, and dark 70% chocolate.

Free-from Easter goodies

With one in five in the UK having had reactions to food, Easter can be an occasion of intense anxiety.

Eight in 10 parents (83%) face significant worry about their child's food allergy and 42% meet the clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress symptoms, according to research by the University of East Anglia.

Nomo

The free from category has since been carving out a sizeable niche. NOMO, for example, has reported 45.6% value growth during the last Easter period, compared to the total market’s value growth of 16.7% in the free from chocolate Easter category.

According to the brand, nearly half of the Easter free from chocolate products purchased in 2023 were from NOMO, with a 47.5% share of all free from Easter products.

The brand also had the top four best-selling free from Easter products in 2023, and six products ranked within the top eight best-selling Easter free from chocolates. The strongest performer was the NOMO Cookie Dough Bunny, which achieved 83% growth in value sales and 81.8% in unit sales.

Free from gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts, NOMO has announced 10 products for Easter 2024, including a brand-new Ultimate Egg featuring an assortment of flavours.

“We want to create chocolate that unites people,”​ said Emma Perrett, marketing controller for NOMO. “Easter can be a tricky time for families if someone suffers from a food allergy or has other dietary requirements. Many of our customers grew up being unable to participate in Easter egg hunts – with stories of tears where siblings could enjoy chocolate that they couldn’t. These may seem like small things, but chocolate provides lots of joy during these occasions – especially in our formative years.

“Our selection provides fantastic new options to ensure that there is safe, great-tasting chocolate for everyone.”

The NOMO Easter collection consists of six new products. Among them is the 258g Ultimate Egg, Bunnies & Mini Bar which includes an assortment of mini chocolate bars and two cookie dough bunnies.

NOMO has also revealed the 154g Creamy Choc Egg & Mini Bars, containing four mini bars in award-winning caramel, orange, mint and sea salt.

Now in bite-size form, NOMO has also unveiled its Mini Cookie Dough Bunnies. These come in a box of five.

Other launches include the 90g Hollow Bunny; 160g Choc Fudge Egg & Bunny – a choc egg studded with caramel fudge pieces and containing a brand-new Choc Fudge Bunny; and a 30g single version of said fudge bunny.

The new products join four NOMO Easter classics: Cookie Dough Bunny; Monsters Crispy Chocolate Egg & Lolly; Caramel Egg & Bar; and Cookie Dough Egg & Bunny.

Moo-Free

Privately owned free-from chocolate manufacturer, Moo Free, has also been adding to the alternatives line-up.

Its Easter 2024 collection includes two new products, the re-formatting of a bestseller in a new sharing pack, and the return of five popular SKUs.

The growing popularity of Moo Free’s innovative range is forecast to deliver a 30% unit volume increase on branded Easter lines versus 2023, according to the manufacturer. Moreover, its 2024 Easter range has gained additional listings in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl, Waitrose and Ocado.

moo free optimised
Moo Free's rocky road and strawberry sundae creations

The latest additions to the free-from chocolate leader’s Easter offering are the Strawberry Sundae Egg, featuring Moo’s strawberry-flavoured chocolate; and the Rocky Road Easter Egg, featuring milk chocolate with a splat of white, loaded with ‘Moofreesas’ biscuit rice balls, raisins, marshmallows and cinder toffee pieces.

The Moo Free Caramel Mini Eggs, which proved successful last year during their launch, have been repackaged in sharable pouches.

Moo Free’s entire range is dairy, gluten and soya free, and also suitable for vegans, and sourced from ethical cocoa from Rainforest Alliance certified farmers.

Co-Op has also revealed a milk-free egg this year, with its Gro Fairtrade Salted Toffee Crunch Easter Egg (150g).

Easter eggs see price hike

Whilst Easter is not shy of new product launches and despite consumers continuing their hesitancy towards spending, prices for Easter eggs are said to cost 12.6% more than this time last year.

The figures come from Which?’s food price inflation tracker, which looks at 20 popular categories of food and drink at eight supermarkets – Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

The report shows that chocolate has seen a much bigger rise than overall supermarket food and drink inflation, which averages around 5.6%.

Among the supermarkets to push their prices up the highest are Waitrose, Asda and Tesco, according to Which?.

The data reveals some of the biggest price jumps, including the Maltesers Truffles Luxury Easter Egg (286g), which is said to be up from £8 to £13 at Waitrose (+ 62.5%); and the Lindt Five Gold Bunny Milk Chocolate (50g) which it says has increased by 55.6%, climbing from £2 to £3.11 at Asda.

Climate change and a lack of investment into the Ivory Coast and Ghana have mostly likely resulted in these higher price tags, with the cost of cocoa reaching eye swelting highs.

“Cocoa’s price has reached a record high amid continued supply concerns in two of the leading cocoa-producing nations globally – Ivory Coast and Ghana – with cocoa production projected to decline by approximately% YoY in West Africa,”​ explained The Smart Cube’s commodity specialist, Nidhi Jain.

“The decrease in production has been caused by several factors, including the spread of disease in cocoa plantations: swollen shoot virus in Ivory Coast and black pod disease in Ghana have led to crop deterioration.

“Uncharacteristically heavy rains in the region escalated the spread of these diseases – total precipitation in West Africa during the second half of 2023 was more than double the 30-year average – negatively impacting cocoa crop quality and production.”

Like cocoa, global sugar prices have risen considerably in recent months. Jain explained: “Driving this is a supply deficit of sugar, caused by the adverse weather associated with El Niño. The weather event has brought dry conditions to India and Thailand – two of the top five producers of the commodity globally.

“Both India and Thailand are already bearing the brunt of dry weather, with sugar output likely to fall by an estimated 10% and 32% respectively in the marketing year 2023/24 (from October 2023).”

And while some eggs may look bigger in size, they tend to also have a higher volume price than their smaller counterparts. In all in all, shrinkflation will be having an impact regardless of whether the product is larger – in other words, consumers will still be spending more. A clever marketing tactic indeed.

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