With Christmas but a distant memory, the next festive feature on the calendar is Easter, so now’s the right time to spring into action and order your holiday stock, says Jane Wolfe
Although not as big a draw as Christmas, there are many categories that health food
stores have on shelf all year round that are a great fit for Easter, especially if you expand your thinking beyond chocolate eggs, bunnies and hot cross buns.
Mark Hubbard, co-owner and manager of Fodder Wholefoods in Hereford, says that Easter also provides a good selling opportunity for everyday basics that aren’t seasonal but are really useful for family get-togethers: “At Easter a lot of families have their growing-up children returning from college and university for a big dinner, and we sell them the vegan nut roast they use and the vegan bread sauce mix – all of the those vegan products that the children of meat-eating parents want. They suddenly run in and say, ‘My son is bringing his gluten-free, vegan girlfriend home for Easter, what do I do?’. So I calmly take them through it.”
Easter is also the perfect time for retailers to make the most of the continuing baking trend which was kick-started for many during lockdown. For those who like to bake from scratch, health stores offer all the ingredients needed for hot cross buns, Simnel cake and other Easter treats, whatever a customer’s specific dietary requirements. “Our customers are foodies and do most of their own cooking, so we wouldn’t buy Simnel cakes in,” says Hubbard. “We sell all the ingredients, so we’ve got a full range of organic dried fruits, flour, mostly Doves Farm, but we also do Bacheldre and Shipton Mill. We also sell a lot of marzipan at this time of year. We’ll always have a sneaky vegan Simnel cake recipe up our sleeves.”
Nutritionist Christine Bailey’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Simnel Cake recipe (https://bit.ly/3t7peBU) includes dried cranberries, mixed dried fruit, mixed spice, cinnamon, apple juice, vegan white marzipan, dairy-free spread or coconut oil, xylitol, apricot jam, apple puree, gluten-free flour, ground almonds and gluten-free baking powder – all health store staples that retailers can highlight with festive recipe handouts or displays.
Moving on to the season-specific goodies that consumers look forward to each year and are absolute must-haves for any food retailer: namely, Easter eggs. “We sell a full range of vegan Easter eggs and Easter treats as well as organic,” says Hubbard. He explains that two local artisan bakeries – Peter Cooks Bread and Alex Gooch – supply the shop with the obligatory hot cross buns, but each also offers a different Easter special every year, such as a festive pastry.
When it comes to chocolate, organic and vegan brand Booja-Booja is particularly popular in the store. “I think they’re better than dairy truffles, they’re gorgeous,” says Hubbard. “I can’t get over how much Booja-Booja we sell, it just flies off the shelves, and that will be the case at Easter, their chocolate and their ice cream – that’s when our ice cream sales start to pick up, at Easter. We also sell a lot of Montezuma’s and some Divine.”
Hubbard also repositions some of his festive goodies from Christmas for Easter. “We find that whatever Christmas stock we’ve got left over that has a long shelf life suddenly sells at Easter – it’s usually sweet-based and it’s stuff that isn’t packaged for Christmas. So, we’ll usually have a bit of HazerBaba Turkish Delight, Anthon Berg chocolate (it’s not organic but everyone knows we stock it and nobody else in Hereford does), and Beeches, which now has a massive range of vegan chocolate. Generally, we’ll take them off the shelves for a couple of weeks mid-February and redesign the shelves to fit Easter.”
So, what’s new to buy in this year ahead of the Easter hols? Booja-Booja is featuring three of its new chocolate truffle flavours in its 2022 Easter Collection, showcasing them in its signature hand-painted eggs. Booja-Booja Chocolate Salted Caramel Truffles (winner of Best New Organic Food Product at Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2021) are available in a large Easter Egg, and the brand’s new Chocolate Orange Truffles and Honeycomb Caramel Chocolate Truffles both feature in small eggs.
This is the first time in five years that the brand has introduced a new chocolate truffle Easter Egg, and MD Matt Gilding says he is excited about the launch. “We’re thrilled that our new chocolate truffles have already won such high-profile awards and we’re delighted to present them in our beautiful Easter Eggs. The exquisite hand-painted eggs and these irresistible truffles are a match made in heaven. They make perfect Easter gifts, and we just know they’re going to be really popular.”
The Raw Chocolate Company is introducing its first egg this year in the shape of its Hazelnut-Truffle Filled Easter Egg With Chocolate Almonds Snack Pack. Made with 100% organic ingredients, including cacao butter and coconut blossom sugar, the egg achieves the brand’s ‘signature creamy flavour’ with raw cacao mass, raw lucuma, gluten-free oats and tigernut flour.
“We find that whatever stock we’ve got left over from Christmas that has a long shelf life suddenly sells at Easter”
The first of two new seasonal products from Moo Free is the Moofreesas Organic Easter Egg – a smooth, hollow ‘milk’ choco-late egg containing a bag of the newly launched Moofreesas malt balls, all made using single-origin organic cocoa from the Dominican Republic and free from dairy, gluten, soya and palm oil. The Moo Free White Bunnycomb Crunch Easter Egg is the brand’s first all-white hollow egg with white Bunnycomb crunch bar – a chunk of free-from and vegan honeycomb made with creamy Rainforest Alliance white cocoa.
H!P’s Salted Caramel Oat Milk Chocolate Egg has undergone a redesign for 2022. The vegan-friendly egg blends sustainably sourced single-origin Colombian cocoa with creamy oat milk, British sea salt and caramel to deliver ‘the ultimate plant-powered, dairy-free chocolate fix’. With approximately 30% less sugar than the average high street milk chocolate egg and more cocoa (41%), the eco-friendly eggs are presented in plastic-free recyclable packaging.
Offering something a little different for children, PLAYin CHOC’s Rabbits Gift Set contains chocolate made from just three plants: cacao, coconut and vanilla, making it natural, organic, vegan and free-from the 14 main allergens. Each Rabbit Toychoc box has two organic chocolates, a card puzzle toy and fun facts card. The product is plastic-free, zero waste and 100% recyclable.
HAPPi is also catering for kids this Easter with the launch of its Happi Oat Mi!k Chocolate Bunny Lollies which are made using oat mi!k chocolate and don a white chocolate tail. In addition to its Orange, Salted Caramel and Plain Mi!k Easter Eggs, this year the brand has also added a White Chocolate & Raspberry variety. Produced using oat milk and rice syrup, the new egg is dairy-, gluten- and soya-free, and packed in 100% recyclable boxes with no single-use plastic.
And as a new addition to its range of Easter treats, which include Little Choc Chicks and Raspberry Mini Eggs, Sussex-based organic brand Cocoa Loco has launched a Mr Moustache Egg. Described as quirky and light-hearted, the egg sports an elaborate white chocolate moustache and is filled with jumbo milk chocolate buttons. The chocolate is Fairtrade-certified, palm oil-free and handmade. Also new for 2022 will be a collection of gift boxes featuring a range of the brand’s ‘customer favourite’ Easter products which can be sent directly to the recipient with a gift note.
And for small or big hands, Doisy & Dam’s Good Eggs are vegan mini eggs designed as a take on a well-known classic, but without the dairy or palm oil. Made with ethically sourced fair trade cocoa, and described as rich and moreish, they are wrapped in a pastel-coloured sugar shell finished off with egg speckle and come in 80g packs.
Plant-based is booming in every sector and for all occasions, and Easter is no exception, but wider free-from options are growing too, with allergy sufferers finally having more of a choice when it comes to enjoying this holiday.
As last year saw more Easter products entered into its main awards than ever before, and as an indication of the rise of free-from in this sector, the FreeFrom Food Awards (FFFA) 2022 has created a new standalone category dedicated entirely to Easter. The category spans Easter eggs, egg hunt boxes, cookies and baking kits – anything specifically designed for Easter.
FFFA says that entries into the new category include ‘surprising innovations’ such as hot cross bun chocolate bars and fruity chocolate Easter eggs, adding that the packaging of free-from Easter products has also taken a step in the right direction with some ‘exciting and attention-grabbing designs for both adults and children’. The first wave of mainstream vegan and free-from products is also making an appearance – with no precautionary allergen labelling for milk – ‘which is great news for the allergic and free-from vegan community’.
Commenting on the new initiative, FFFA CEO Cressida Langlands says: “To have a bespoke Easter category demonstrates the enormous range of products now on the market and is a big step change for the FFFAs. Having seen the entries, we’ve taken the decision to enlist the help of some of our child and teen judges, so we have all age groups present on the judging panel for a fully rounded perspective on the entries. We cannot wait to share the results!”
Judging and the announcement of medal winners will take place on 7 February to enable winners and finalists to make the most of their successes as part of their Easter trading plans in the run-up to the holiday in April.
New Easter Eggs
Multi award-winning chocolatier Booja-Booja is showcasing three of its new chocolate truffles in its 2022 Easter Collection. Launched a few months ago, in single-flavour boxes, the three new truffle varieties have already won prestigious awards and now feature in the company’s Easter gift range. Booja-Booja Chocolate Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles, winners of Best New Organic Food Product at the Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2021, are now available in the company’s popular, exquisitely hand-painted Large Easter Eggs. The new Chocolate Orange and Honeycomb Caramel Truffles, from the award-winning Signature Collection box, are now available in beautiful hand-painted Small Easter Eggs.
The UK’s best selling Ginger confectionery brand is more popular than ever as consumers look to natural ingredients which can strengthen their immune system. Gin Gins are perfect to warm a winter chill, soothe an upset stomach or ease nausea on a long road trip this winter.
The new Gin Gin Turmeric also combines the additional anti-inflammatory effects making an ideal pre workout energy treat while soothing the after effects of strenuous exercise. Make sure you are stocked up for the coming Easter season!
Peppermint & Poppy Seeds Soap
Even the deepest sleepers can’t resist the power of peppermint, and this soap is a wonderful wake-up call. Its magic blend of peppermint essential oils and exfoliating poppy seeds creates a luxuriously creamy lather that leaves you feeling wonderfully clean.
Handmade with Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Poppy Seeds and Peppermint essential oil.
Friendly bars don’t contain palm oil, preservatives or sulfates and are packed into plastic-free, recycled and recyclable boxes. Friendly Soap is registered with The Vegan Society, Cruelty-Free International, The Living Wage Foundation and Good Shipping.
Free From Fellows Mallows
Free From Fellows™ have extended their line up of the nation’s favourite sweets by adding three super fluffy vegan marshmallow lines. They are available in Strawberry, Vanilla and Mini Pink & White Vanilla Mallows. Free From Fellows™ Mallows have a free from list which is endless and are suitable for everyone including vegans and vegetarians. Our delicious Strawberry and Vanilla Mallows are perfect for BBQing with friends and family while our Mini Pink & White Vanilla Mallows are ideal for adding to home bakes and hot chocolates. They don’t contain any nasties and have also been approved by the Vegan and Vegetarian Societies.