The price of Easter eggs is soaring – and it’s not for the reason you think

The cost of chocolate has shot up, making it hard to find an egg for less than a fiver, writes Dayna Brackley – and we should all be paying attention to the reasons why

Friday 29 March 2024 10:40 GMT
The price of Easter eggs has gone up by 50 per cent since last year
The price of Easter eggs has gone up by 50 per cent since last year (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Like many of you, I’m looking forward to seeing my kids’ faces light up on Easter morning as they dash around the garden, finding a brightly coloured foil egg under a daisy. And like many of you, I’m also watching the news that the price of Easter eggs has gone up by 50 per cent since last year and wondering how much this hunt will cost me. 

In fact, I’m finding myself hard-pressed to find an Easter Egg this year for under a fiver. But there’s more behind the price surge than you might think...

Chocolate prices are going up. The new Which? report out today shows that chocolate is the fastest rising food from all their 20 categories – a 12.6 per cent rise year on year. Climate change and poor weather conditions in West Africa (where the majority of our chocolate comes from), have resulted in lower crop yields this year (and by the way, human-induced climate change is likely to blame).

But did you know that the cocoa farmer – the one who grows, harvests, ferments and dries the cocoa beans (the key ingredient in your bar) – will get just £0.30p from that crisp £5 note? It’s an industry secret that the manufacturers and retailers get almost 80 per cent of the profit from a bar, whereas the farmer takes home just 6 per cent.

Cocoa farmers are deeply affected by poverty, child labour, deforestation, climate change, modern slavery and gender inequality. Living in a poverty trap can lead to devastating outcomes: 790,000 children were engaged in child labour in cocoa in the Ivory Coast in 2021. Adding to that, there were more than 10,000 modern slavery victims in cocoa between 2013-2017. Poverty underpins the majority of the issues in the cocoa industry – a cocoa farmer earns on average £0.78p per day. Meanwhile, Mintel reports that the UK chocolate market was worth £5.6 billion in 2021. Something is wrong with this picture.

But what about Fairtrade, I hear you ask? You’re right, there are people doing good things in the world of chocolate. Fairtrade is one of them, Tony’s Chocolonely also pay their cocoa farmers a premium so they have enough money to live on, to lift them out of poverty. But it’s not enough – we need the big players to step up and level the playing field.

Fundamentally, the chocolate industry (and retailers) need to pay cocoa farmers more. If the chocolate industry were to pay the additional wages needed to allow cocoa farmers to earn a decent living (known as the Living Income Reference Price), it would equate to only 0.7 per cent of the global chocolate revenue. I think they should take the hit – and allow us to start the journey to eradicating farmer poverty and ending human rights abuses in the cocoa value chain.

So what can us consumers do? Firstly, for those that can, we should be buying ethically sourced chocolate, from companies that focus on paying their farmers well. More importantly, we should all be making more noise about the big players who turn a blind eye to mistreatment of cocoa farmers across the globe. We should also be making it known that the cocoa farmer only gets a fraction of a profit from the bar.

This year, I’m buying the kids just one ethically sourced egg, and I’m going to be telling them why. I’ll be telling them about the children, their age, who are using dangerous machetes to cut down the cocoa beans in West Africa – and why it’s important we have less, so that cocoa farmers get more.

Dayna Brackley is a senior food policy consultant at Bremner & Co. She is also an MSc student at the Centre for Food Policy and has studied cocoa value chains in the Ivory Coast

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