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The Easter trading recovery

Most of us love chocolate. Over the past 12 months 97 per cent of Australian households have purchased some type of chocolate and on average we spend $160 on chocolate a year and are buying the category every two weeks.

No surprise then that in a tumultuous and uncertain year with lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing we took solace in the comfort of chocolate and it shows in its performance where the overall chocolate category was able to grow its value by 9 per cent building on its already significant size, now worth $1.9 billion annually. 

However not all segments within chocolate confectionery performed as well and given the state of Australia in April last year Easter was negatively impacted. Family picnics and Easter egg hunts were restricted, many schools were closed and with the worldwide uncertainty it did not seem the best time to socialise with friends and hide chocolates. 

Total Easter Chocolate is currently worth about $226 million however the segment is currently in value decline of 1 per cent versus year ago. This decline while small is significant considering the overall chocolate category’s excellent growth for the same time period. And with things returning to a new normal we can expect a very different Easter in 2021. 

However it is curious that this originally Christian tradition is celebrated so widely in Australia and the world, and somehow the Egg which was considered a symbol of fertility and new life as part of a resurrection story has become a fantastical fable for children about Bunny’s delivering chocolate eggs. As for the Bunny’s origins story one theory is that the symbol of the rabbit stems from the ancient pagan tradition believed to have started the celebration of Easter known also as the festival of Eostre which honoured the goddess of fertility and spring, and supposedly the goddess’s animal symbol was a rabbit, which has long symbolised fertility due to its high reproduction rates. As for how the specific character of the Easter Bunny originated in America, History.com reports that it was first introduced in the 1700s by German immigrants in Pennsylvania, who reportedly brought over their tradition of an egg-laying hare named “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws”. Whatever the logic behind a cotton tailed chocolate courier, looking at early results people are already excited to celebrate Easter this year. 

Easter products for the quarter ending 28th of February are already in growth of 8.7 per cent versus the same time period year ago which many still consider a pre-covid time period in Australia as restrictions had not been enforced yet. Easter Chocolate has already increased its penetration by 1 per cent for the current MAT versus year ago. From these initial results its looks like the retailer and manufacturer strategy of getting Easter chocolates on shelf early as possible is paying off. 

It’s encouraging to see these green shoots of the category recovering, and without placing too much symbolism on these early indicative numbers it looks like people are ready to get out there are start hiding and finding chocolate eggs, which I think is a representation of our broader desire to reconnect and socialise together and chocolate eggs are the perfect reason to do so.  

Sources: IRI Shopper Panel 03/01/21 & IRI Grocery Scan 28/02/2021

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