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69% of Brits say Easter egg packaging is excessive

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Two thirds of Brits believe Easter eggs contain too much packaging. Credit: Getty/Pollyana Ventura
Two thirds of Brits believe Easter eggs contain too much packaging. Credit: Getty/Pollyana Ventura

Related tags Food inflation Sustainability Food waste

While Britain is a nation of chocolate lovers, two thirds of consumers believe chocolate eggs comprise too much packaging – yet despite concerns over sustainability and inflation, we’ll still be dipping into our pockets for the sweet stuff.

In 2023, the UK was estimated to have spent £415m on Easter eggs.

In fact, the purchase of $2.29bn worth of produce and sale of more than $1bn globally saw the nation crowned as the ninth largest importer and fourth largest exporter of chocolate, respectively.1

Packaging waste from Easter chocolate

However, despite Britain’s sweet tooth, Waste Managed says as much as 3,000 tonnes of chocolate associated with the holiday is thrown every year. That’s the equivalent of 230 double-decker buses.

Data from WRAP reflects a similar story, with 24% of households admitting to chucking away at least one uneaten Easter egg post-holiday.

The same study also found that the equivalent of 3.3m plastic water bottles worth of plastic is used to package Easter eggs in the UK.

In fact, Waste Manage says an estimated 4,370 tonnes of card and 160 tonnes of foil packaging were used for Easter eggs last year alone, with packaging accounting for 8,000 tonnes of waste annually.

Despite efforts to promote sustainability from the food sector, further research from DS Smith has found that 69% of Brits believe Easter eggs use too much unnecessary packaging.

The same survey found that a fifth (20%) said they wanted Easter eggs to come in full recyclable packaging, with 79% saying that they recycle at least one part of the box.

However, inconsistent recycling across the UK continues to prove problematic. As many as 41% and 28% believe a lack of recycling options and unclear instructions are to blame for their struggles, respectively. Meanwhile, 22% of consumers chalk it up to their own forgetfulness.  

DS Smith says this confusion is indicative of a broader trend it flagged in previous research, showing that the UK’s recycling rates are in decline. It anticipates that within the next six years, two in five paper and board packs will end up in landfill or incinerated.

Commenting, DS Smith’s seasonal sustainability expert, Samantha Upham, said: “Confectionery companies have come a long way to remove unnecessary packaging and make the remaining wrapping recyclable. Now we just have to make sure that everyone has best chance to recycle as much as possible.

“As most confectionary companies are now producing 100% recyclable Easter egg packaging, it has gotten easier over the years to recycle​ them."

Steve Traviss, Waste Managed’s own sustainability expert agreed, stating that consumers need to be more ‘mindful’ and is urging ‘responsible’ behaviour, including opting for minimal packaging, recycling correctly and donating excess chocolate to food banks.

“By collectively adopting sustainable practices, we can make a significant positive impact on the environment,” ​he urged.

Brit’s sweet tooth overpowers cost

Regardless, of their packaging woes, DS Smith says the nation intends to buy more than 156m Easter eggs this year.

Its research found that 47% of Brits are planning to buy three or more chocolate eggs this Easter. Their top priorities are value for money (65%), taste (57%) and volume of chocolate (43%).

This comes at the same time figures show a startling increase of ‘chocflation’, with news of Freddos seeing as much as a 150% surge in price, according to The Institute of Export and International Trade.

General food inflation this year is running at more than 7%, but the Institute reports that chocolate is over 30 times higher.

Overall, chocolate price tags have risen by 245% year-on-year,2​ with heavy rainfall and crop disease impacting the two biggest suppliers – Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen the weaponisation of fragile global supply chains which has caused significant disruption due to events such as the ongoing situation in the Red Sea, wider global geopolitical uncertainty and a variety of updates to border policies. Combined with the impact of climate change – which has significantly dampened this year’s cocoa harvest – the price of chocolate is soaring,”​ said the association’s director general, Marco Forgione.

He continued: “Although other factors such as ‘chocflation’ are potentially at play, from the perspective of international trade, we need to look at how we can build resilient, anti-fragile supply chains to protect consumers.

The director general believes a global co-ordinated approach is needed which prioritises the digitisation of supply chains.

“By implementing digital processes to replace legacy, paper-based systems, shipping processes can be streamlined, improving efficiency as well as accuracy, which saves businesses time and money,” ​he added.

“Nations have to shift away from highly fragile supply chains and sourcing patterns to build resilient, anti-fragile systems. All of this will require time, significant resources and new approaches to manufacturing and inventory management but, if implemented, will bring increased stability to global supply chains, ultimately helping to minimise price fluctuations for consumers.”

In other news, Food Manufacture takes a closer look at the NPD process, as we hear from several experts around their practices.

References

  1. https://oec.world/en/profile/bilateral-product/chocolate/reporter/gbr
  2. https://tradingeconomics.com/commodities

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