Easter Egg Guide!
Updated: Mar 24
Now that we're approaching Easter I'm sure you're all buying or thinking of buying Easter eggs, unless you're giving chocolate up for lent or you're one of those wierdos that doesn't like chocolate... you guys should probably just stop reading now...
For those of you who are planning on eat chocolate this Easter this year, try and think about two things: packaging and sustainable ingredients.
Packaging is easy to think about as you can see it at quick glance,, but its harder to buy a well packaged egg. Most large eggs come in an unnecessary amount of packaging - foil then plastic then cardboard! Why? Shouting out to all the chocolate companies here PLEASE START USING FOIL AND CARDBOARD ONLY!! I mean really how hard is it? We've seen our eggs for years from the outside of the packing, I'm sure we can trust you by not to put the chocolate inside without using a sheet of plastic so we can peer inside before purchasing. From what I've seen just 2 brands are doing this - Divine and Green and Blacks.
Finding chocolate that uses sustainable ingredients is harder, but much more feasible. So, how do you find out who is sustainable and who to trust? I've just found a great app called Giki, it has around 250,000 products and rates them on their sustainability! they rate their chocolate based on a variety of categories or badges including: responsibly sourced; better packaging; organic; healthier option (never actually seen this selected for chocolate...); low carbon foot print; and sustainable palm oil.
I'm going to do my best to clear things up for you and make your Easter egg shopping this year easier!
Lets start with palm oil, arguably the most important one. It's so important that, if palm oil is used, it is sustainably sourced. Palm oil plantations are one of the leading causes of deforestation, subsequently aiding the extinction of hundreds of species of animal! This has been a major issue for animals such as Orangutans in Sumatra and Bourneo and the Sumatran Tiger both of which are critically endangered largely due to habitat destruction for palm oil plantations. Unfortunately, this is a difficult ingredient to ditch all together as the substance, if grown sustainably, is a lot better for the environment than the alternatives such as coconut oil. It takes relatively little land and water to grow high volumes, it doesn't have much taste and has a low melting point, saving energy. This just calls for an even bigger effort to grow it sustainably. Alternatively, strip back the ingredients completely, back to basics. Palm oil or alternatives are not actually essentials in cooking and baking! It's just become common use.
So, what chocolate brands actually use sustainable palm oil, or even better no palm oil? To assist me in working this out I have used the combined powers of WWF Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) score card and Giki. RSPO investigate different brands, retailers and manufacturers palm oil supply chain and categorise how they source it. If you want to get into the detail of it, it's quite hard to get your head around. Essentially, there's only three brands that use 100% segregated sustainable palm oil - Ferrero, Danone and Arnott's. So well done to these for making such an effort! Other brands that are actually making an effort to switch opt for Mass balance, which is a blend of sustainable and "conventional" or book and claim where they use "conventional" palm oil but contribute the same amount to production of sustainable palm oil. But the way I see it, this isn't good enough. The reason I use quotation marks for the word conventional is not just because that's the term they used, but because it really is about time conventional palm oil is sustainable palm oil. It's about time companies get their act together and fully commit to the swap or change their recipes, back to basics.
Time to name and shame. Cadburys first. In 2019 all of the palm kernel oil was uncertified and their crude and refined palm oil was all book and claim. Now they're not horrendous, RSPO gives them a middle of the road rating, but really, get a grip guys, not like you cant afford the sustainable stuff you're just too lazy to make the change. Nestle has improved since last year from 76% uncertified, just 19% sustainable and only 5% book and claim to 41%, 33% and 26% retrospectively, so I'll give them their credit for trying but I would still never choose them. Mars does a little better being 100% mass balance but its still room for improvement. Throntons are now partnered with Ferreo (as are nutela) meaning they are doing really well being one of the first, and only, to be 100% sustainable. Lindt aren't too far behind with 65% segregated sustainable and the remainder 35% mass balance but this still isn't good enough. Green and Blacks are great as that use the back to basics approach and don't use palm oil or any alternatives so bravo guys. Divine chocolate doesn't use palm oil either
In addition to Palm oil the cocoa used should be sustainable. This is monitored through companies such as Cocoa Life and World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). Both companies support local farmers ensuring fair trade and also helping to protect the environment by creating farms that can be reused by maintaining soil quality and the landscape. Chocolate brands have signed up to cocoa life inc Cadbury, Green & Blacks, see list of main brands here. Throntons, Godiva, Lindt and Ferrero are members of WCF as well as lots of other chocolate brands you can find here. You should also look out for the rainforest alliance certificate as that indicates that the product uses sustainable farms. Brands that are certified by this organisation, such as galaxy (owned by mars), can be found in the full list here.
So what does this all mean? What chocolate should you buy this Easter? It is hard because no brand is perfect. Palm oil wise I would go for Thorntons and Ferrero, second to these I'd go for Lindt then probably Mars. But packaging wise Thorntons and Ferrero always use plastic! where as Lindt does use only foil on their little Easter bunnies. But, my top two brands that stand out above the rest are Green and Blacks and Divine. they both receive 4 badges on Giki (instead of the 2 the rest receive!) and avoid palm oil or alternatives in their products.
If there are any other brands you want me to research just comment below! I've made it mainly UK orientated as that's were I'm from and what is most relevant to majority of my readers but if there's the demand I'll make it more international!
Thanks for reading and enjoy your chocolate!!