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Last Updated 20th August 2019
Posted In: Environment | Guides & Advice

Surprising Facts About Easter Packaging.

Never look at your favourite chocolates the same way again...

It’s that time of year again when people’s thoughts turn to chocolate eggs – and inevitably the argument about excessive Easter packaging.

But do these perceptions still hold true? And how much excess packaging is actually produced to house Easter eggs from our favourite chocolate brands?

Well, this guide aims to highlight a number of both serious and fun Easter packaging facts. These have been broken down into a number of areas. These are Easter packaging facts, packaging improvements being made, chocolate facts and those which are just plain odd!

We hope you enjoy reading them!

Easter packaging facts
Check out this selection of interesting, wacky and sometimes serious Easter packaging facts...

Easter Packaging Facts

Here is a collection of striking packaging facts related to Easter eggs and the packaging they generate.

It is estimated that between 80 and 90 million chocolate eggs are eaten each year in Britain (depending on which source you believe).

Almost two thirds – 59%  – of British adults said that they thought Easter eggs are over-packaged and believe brands should take steps to reduce packaging.*

The plastic and cardboard packaging typically accounts for over a quarter of total product weight in many of the UK’s best-selling chocolate eggs

This can mean that on average only 38% of an Easter egg box (by volume) is taken up by the chocolate itself

A Which? Survey, conducted in 2018, discovered that Cadbury’s Twirl Large Easter Egg had the least packaging of the major brands (accounting for 18.8 % of the total weight).

In contrast, the Thornton’s’ Classic Large Egg was the most over-packaged.  The cardboard box and plastic accounted for more than a third (36.4%) of the product’s weight.

The UK’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that the UK will discard around 3,000 tonnes of packaging each year (based on sales in 2016).

This 3,000 tonnes of waste would take 400 large lorries to transport to landfill or (hopefully) recycling centres.

And if this 3,000 tonnes of waste were recycled, it would save 1,170,000kWh of energy. This is enough to boil 182,813 (hens) eggs

In total, the UK produces approximately 11.5m tonnes of packaging waste every year (with a high percentage of this being food and drink packaging).

What this means however, is that Easter egg packaging actually contributes a very small percentage of the overall UK domestic (i.e. household) packaging at only 0.266%.

Packaging Improvements

Despite the bad press many brands get, here are some figures on how they are trying to address the issue.

Thornton’s have reduced their Easter packaging by 22% between 2017 and 2018. This is the equivalent of 73 tonnes of packaging waste.

Nestle also reported in February (2018) that it had reduced its packaging by around 30%. This reduces packaging waste by around 700 tonnes – an equivalent weight to 100 double-decker buses.

Nestle also removed plastic from 20 million Easter eggs to aid recycling.

And finally, Nestle also redesigned packaging to make it more compact. This in turn saved 48,000 road miles in transporting their Easter eggs in 2018.

Thankfully, almost all of the packaging from the eggs found in major retailers is now recyclable. The only packaging that can generally not be recycled is individual chocolate bar wrappers and plastic windows.

Any plastic typically found in Easter egg packaging Easter eggs is PET 1. This can be recycled by 99% of local authorities, being the same plastic that drinks bottles are manufactured from.

The foil wrapped around chocolate eggs is also commonly recycled.

Chocolate Facts

Enough about the packaging. What about the important part – the chocolate! Here are some facts regarding chocolate consumption in the UK throughout Easter and beyond.

Around £299 million is spent on Easter egg chocolate each year in the UK.

As such, Easter chocolate sales make up 10 per cent of Britain’s annual spending on chocolate.

This equates to 90 million chocolate eggs being eaten. Laid side by side, they would stretch from the UK to Sri Lanka!

The most popular chocolate egg globally is the Cadbury’s Creme Egg, which was originally launched in 1971.

The Cadburys factory at Bourneville which produces them, can make 1.5 million Creme Eggs every day. 500 million are made annually with around 305 exported for overseas markets.

Chocolate facts
Chocolate consumption is big business - which many fear is leading to child exploitation in many cocoa producing regions

The UK is joint 4th in the world league of chocolate eating (based on weight per capita) behind only Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

On average, this means that each person in Britain eats almost 9.5 kg of chocolate per year.

Fairtrade Chocolate sales accounts for around 12% of chocolate confectionary sales in the UK – equivalent to £542m each year.

The Ivory Coast in West Africa is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, supplying 43 per cent of the total.

The organisation “Make Chocolate Fair” believes there could be up to 2 million children working on cocoa plantations in both Ghana and Ivory Coast. Around a quarter of these are likely to be in exploitative conditions.

History & Just Plain Weird!

The first chocolate factory in Britain started production back in 1657.

The first solid chocolate bar was developed by JS Fry & Sons, going on sale in 1847.

The Cadbury Brothers produced their first bar of chocolate two years later in 1849.

However, milk chocolate as we know today was not available until after 1875 – with Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter developing the recipe.

1875 was a good year for chocolate – it was also the year the first Cadbury eggs were made.

27% of parents admit to eating their children’s chocolate at Easter.

This figure rises to 80.5% in the USA (maybe they are just more honest)!

76% of people will bite the ears off a chocolate bunny first

And 65% of people think of chocolate first when asked about Easter

Children tend to eat their Easter eggs in 4 days, consuming on average 8 eggs and around 8,000 calories

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Tosca (Italy) created the largest chocolate Easter egg ever. It weighed 7,200 kg and had a circumference of 19.6 m.

Thorntons made the world’s largest chocolate bar to celebrate their 100th birthday. It was around 6 tonnes in weight – the equivalent to 75,000 of their standard size bars.

The most expensive Easter egg on sale in 2016 was by Brighton Chocolatiers Choccywoccydodah. It cost £25,000!

And finally, consumers reported seeing Cadburys Creme eggs and Mini eggs in some supermarkets as early as 19th December.

Easter chocolate facts
Around £299 million is spent on Easter egg chocolate each year in the UK - around 10% of the annual total.

A backlash about excessive packaging

So, taking into account some of these facts, is the perception of Easter packaging really warranted?

Well, with an increasing consumer backlash against the perceived environmental impact of excessive Easter packaging on gifts – particularly chocolate eggs – the largest brands have been modifying their approach.

Less materials overall, a reduced use of plastics and cellophane and smaller overall footprints have needed to be balanced against the potential impact the packaging must provide. Brand standout and presentation are still seen as the key drivers for consumers when choosing an Easter egg – particularly as the majority are purchased as gifts.

The Forgotten aspects of Easter Packaging

Despite the media focus on the “product packaging” seen at Easter, there are other aspects of packaging throughout the supply chain that tend to be forgotten about. Firstly, it is of critical importance that the products reach the retail outlets in pristine condition, so suitable transit packaging is required.

Interior fixtures and fitting which can give the outer packaging strength, shape and rigidity are also often overlooked, even though they are integral to the packaging. Besides this, cardboard POS and FSDUs are also widely used at this time of year, helping brands to win impulse purchases and stand out from the crowd.

Corrugated Packaging for Easter

Whilst GWP Packaging can produce low or high volume Easter egg packaging for large brands or niche manufacturers, our core expertise lies in the creation of corrugated transit solutions. We have produced countless transit packs to transport delicate and perishable food products, ensuring the items reach the consumers exactly as promised.

We have also manufactured a wide range of free standing display units (FSDUs) and Point of Sale (POS) units for use in competitive retail environments.

This has included “shelf ready” packaging that retailers can simply open and put on the shelf (reducing eliminating time spent unpacking and merchandising).

Brands we have helped in such ways include Bendicks, Tesco and a number of smaller independent food producers.

Why corrugated packaging is environmentally friendly

In spite of a number of common misconceptions, corrugated packaging is actually one of the most environmentally friendly forms of packaging – if managed correctly.

To start with, most people assume that the world’s forests are being destroyed to make paper. In truth however, the material for corrugated board come from sustainably managed forests that would not exist if it was not for the materials they provide.

Both wood and paper have become commodities and their market value actually leads to new forests being planted rather than destroyed. Therefore, for every tree cut down three to four are replanted. It is also estimated that there are 25% more trees in the developed World today than there were in 1901

Easter packaging facts
Easter packaging is often seen as unnecessary waste - but it can be environmentally friendly if designed correctly

As well as this, corrugated cardboard has a recycling rate of 84% in the UK – being the highest recycling rate of any type of packaging.

This means that every four months an area the size of Greater London is saved from landfill by recycling corrugated cardboard alone. Cardboard can actually be recycled seven times before its fibre becomes too weak for further use and the 16% of corrugated material that is not recycled, is fully biodegradable.

In Summary.

Let us help with Easter Packaging (or any other kind)…

If you have a packaging requirement this Easter – or indeed any time of the year, please contact us using the details below.

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Matt Dobson, Marketing Manager at GWP Group

[email protected]
01793 754 444

About the Author: Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for approximately 7 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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