Friday 16 March 2018

Fairly traded Easter eggs

Did you know that most Easter eggs on sale in New Zealand this Easter are made with cocoa that could well have been grown by slaves?  Who would want to support that?

Below are some ways you can get your Easter treats whilst helping your neighbours to flourish, instead of supporting those who enslave them!

FairTrade certified

FairTrade is one of the oldest and best-known fair trade schemes.  They guarantee a minimum price for the cocoa and also give growers a 'fair trade premium' to be used for community development projects.  Fair trade requires growers to be co-ops, rather than regular companies with employees.

Countdown is stocking two FairTrade-certified eggs this Easter, both of which are also sugar-free.  They're going for $12.49 each:
Image result for chocolatier sugar free egg
I expect this one's also vegan - the same egg was last year, anyway!
Image result for chocolatier sugar free egg

Wellington chocolate factory has a (vegan) egg going for around $10 that you can buy these from a number of places around Wellington as well as online from The Chocolate Bar.

When you crack it open, you find a solid-chocolate chick on a bed of roasted coconut shards!

Image result for wellington chocolate factory easter

For $10.98 from The Cruelty Free Shop (online and in Grey Lynn) there's a vegan 'milk' chocolate egg made with rice milk:

Plamil Organic Easter Egg

We also spotted a variety of Riegelein chicks and bunnies at our local superette.  If you see them, check for the fair trade logo (on the back) before you buy.  Not all elements of their range are fair trade, but the following ones were in our local shop:


UTZ is a response to some of the limitations of FairTrade: it brings in large plantations whilst still guaranteeing good labour conditions including a living wage.  Read more about it here.

Hamlet Easter figurines are UTZ-certified: not all the ones we saw had it, but the following did
We saw these at Countdown - they come in four different shapes and cost $4.49 each.
All the other UTZ-certified products we have found come from Nestle.  Some people may be surprised to see their name on a list of fairly-traded products: after all, many people boycott Nestle due to the dangerous ways in which they promoted their milk formula in the 1980s.  Whilst I agree that was terrible, these days I am a fairly strong supporter of Nestle: they have by far the best labour rights policies of any of their multinational competitors, and have particularly strong policies when it comes to child welfare.  I think Nestle is a great success story when it comes to consumer power: people boycotted them, they listened and have changed their ways :-)

Do check for the UTZ mark or Nestle's 'cocoa plan' mark (which encompasses UTZ) - not all of Nestle's factories have yet transitioned to UTZ and a number of the 'Smarties' products are still made with regular cocoa.

There are a range of UTZ-certified 'filled' eggs going for around $5.50 each:

Smarties mini-eggs ($3 from The Warehouse) are also UTZ-certified:
Image result for smarties mini-eggs

Other fair trade certifications

La Petite Chocolat in Hawke's Bay has an impressive range of Easter treats - solid chocolate eggs in real egg shells, Mama and baby hen and chick sets, hot cross bun-flavoured chocolate and more.  Their range is made from chocolate certified by 'Ecocert' in France.  I'm not familiar with this certification and have no idea how trustworthy it is: if you'd like to look into it, their standards documentation is here.

Also, not an Easter 'egg', but TradeAid this year has released limited-edition chocolate-drizzled popcorn this Easter :-)  Their chocolate is certified by WFTO - along with FairTrade, one of the two most widely respected fair trade suppliers.

For your local stockist, check here.


I've also come across a few commercial Easter egg options that are cocoa-free:
Egg-shaped lemon-flavoured shortbread biscuits - available from Countdown for $4.49.  According to the BBC (!) "Walkers mini lemon shortbread eggs are as short, sweet, and satisfying as a bright spring day."
Unlike Cadbury and Whittaker's, Nestle white 'chocolate' is cocoa-free(!)

And various marshmallow treats (these are all from the Countdown website - you'll likely find others elsewhere, too):

Ones to watch out for

It can be easy to assume that Whittakers Kiwis are FairTrade: after all, their Dark Ghana and Creamy Milk 250g blocks are!  Sadly, they're not.  Those 250g blocks are the only items in the Whittakers range that are FairTrade: everything else - including Dark Ghana and Creamy Milk in other shapes and sizes - is made from regular cocoa.

Swiss Bliss from Waitoki, whose products are on sale in a number of organic stores, claim to be fair trade.  They provide no statement on their website as to what that means to them, and haven't responded to my enquiries.  I'd stay away from them if you're concerned about labour rights!

Some of the Nestle 'Smarties' range isn't yet UTZ-certified: avoid the smarties egg hunt pack, the smarties funny egg, the mini smarties egg and the smarties Easter bunny.

Countdown is selling Hamlet hazelnut filled eggs.  Although Hamlet's Easter figurines are UTZ-certified, these eggs are not and are to be avoided.  And, if you have the energy, please complain to Countdown about that: the manufacturer clearly makes both UTZ and regular versions of these, but Countdown has chosen to buy the regular version.

Make your own!

It's awesome there's so many options this year: the most there's been since we stopped buying conventional cocoa a bit over 10 years ago.

However, there's still no options for chocolate marshmallow Easter eggs or hard-shelled eggs with fillings - if you want those, you need to make your own using fairly traded chocolate.

To make marshmallow eggs (recipe), you need a strong electric beater and some gelatine - a cooking thermometer also helps.  You likely have all the other supplies in your house already.  They take a while as the marshmallow has be left to set for around four hours, but they're pretty straight-forward and would be easy to do with children.

Hard-shelled eggs with fillings ideally require moulds: you can buy a range here.  I use their small cracked egg mould, which makes eggs a bit smaller than commercial creme eggs.

I use these to make creme eggs (recipe  - includes both classic vanilla and vegan peppermint) and hazelnut eggs (recipe).  The hazelnut ones are dead easy (you just need to source some hazelnut butter - try your local health food store).  Creme eggs are more tricky (especially the classic white and yellow vanilla ones) and require a strong beater and a cooking thermometer.  You'll also need to source some invertase (likely from a place that sells supplies for specialty cakes) and glucose (try home-brew stores) to make them.


If you don't have moulds to hand and have run out of time to buy them, you can make hard-shelled 'eggs' on sticks instead (instructions towards the end of my creme egg recipe), but they will come out quite munted-looking!

This year my friend Anna and I will be making marshmallow eggs, hazelnut eggs and vegan peppermint creme eggs.  We make lots so there's plenty to share with friends and relations :-)

I made the soft fillings earlier this week:

One day next week I'll do the marshmallow centres and finish off the peppermint creme egg filling; on Saturday week we'll assemble them together.  Yum!

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