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The surprising chocolate Easter eggs with less cocoa than you think

Chocolate Easter eggs are hugely popular in the UK. (Getty Images)
Chocolate Easter eggs are hugely popular in the UK. (Getty Images)

Easter may be a religious holiday, but it’s hard to deny that one of the all-important stars of the big day is the Easter Egg. In the UK, chocolate Easter Eggs are so beloved that an estimated 80 to 90 million chocolate eggs are sold each year.

There is a huge variety of chocolate eggs on the market to meet every price point, and everyone has a preference. Some people will declare themselves Cadbury fans for life, while others might rave about Lindt’s Easter offerings.

But just how chocolatey are your chocolate eggs? And does it matter? The answer is yes, as the higher the cocoa content, the higher the value of your favourite chocolate products. This is why dark chocolate tends to be more expensive than milk chocolate, because dark chocolate contains higher amounts of cocoa.

In England, brands must adhere to the Cocoa and Chocolate Products Regulations 2003, which state that milk chocolate can only be called that if it has a minimum of 20% cocoa solids and 20% milk solids.

This varies according to different countries. In the EU, the minimum percentage for cocoa content rises to 25%, while the US only requires a minimum of 10% cocoa solids for a product to be considered milk chocolate.

Ambach, Germany
Chocolate eggs are hugely popular at Easter. (Getty Images)

As for dark chocolate, they must contain at least 35% cocoa solids to qualify as such in the UK. However, luxury and premium brands often offer ranges with significantly more cocoa percentages, as high as 99% in some cases.

According to an analysis by Yahoo UK of 20 Easter chocolate egg products, most products that are on the more affordable end of the scale are meeting the requirements at the minimum level, at around 20% to 25% of cocoa content.

But you may be surprised to know that some chocolate brands that are known for higher prices actually have less cocoa content compared to their cheaper competitors.

For example, Guylian’s Milk Chocolate Egg with Belgian Chocolates contains 21% cocoa and is priced at £12. This is more expensive than a giant Maltesers Easter Egg, which costs £12.50 but actually has a higher cocoa content of 25%.

Another example is Thornton’s, whose Classic Milk Chocolate Easter Egg has 30% cocoa content and costs £11. This is compared to Ferrero Rocher’s Golden Easter Egg, which costs £15 but has a significantly higher 42% cocoa content.

Ferrero Rocher's Golden Easter Egg also contains more cocoa than Lindt's Milk Chocolate Egg, which also costs £15 but only has 30% cocoa content.

Of the chocolate eggs that cost the least, we found that Cadbury's Dairy Milk Buttons Large Chocolate Easter Egg was the most affordable at £3 but also had one of the lowest cocoa content percentages (20%).

Meanwhile, Smarties Milk Chocolate Large Easter Egg is slightly better value for money, as it is also priced at £3 but has 25% cocoa content.

Among the products we analysed, Hotel Chocolat’s Extra-Thick Easter Egg has the highest cocoa content, containing 196g of cocoa in the 440g egg. However, this is also the most expensive item analysed, setting customers back almost £30.

A good, cheaper alternative with similar cocoa content is the After Eight Dark Chocolate Mint Egg, which has a whopping 188g of cocoa in the 400g egg for a pocket-pleasing £8.

Now is a good time to stock up on chocolate Easter Eggs and to compare prices to ensure you're getting the best value chocolate for your money. Last week, the chocolate union representing 70 brands including Lindt, Ferrero and Nestle, warned that price hikes are on their way.

Watch: Pensioner claims a Nestle Easter egg he was given 92 years ago is a record breaker

Gilles Rouvière told French publication Actu that the rising cost of cocoa is largely due to bad weather affecting harvests in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which are the main producers and exporters of cocoa beans.

The general secretary of the union explained: "The fault lies with torrential rains in Ivory Coast and Ghana, combined with a significant drought, which disrupted the harvests,’ the General secretary of the chocolate union explained.

"The difficult weather in these two countries [that are] main bean producers and powerful exporters has caused cocoa prices to soar. In one year, the price per tonne increased by 114%, reaching an average of €4,500 over the year’."

The higher prices on chocolate were already felt by fans of Cadbury Mini Eggs, as in February, shoppers were horrified to learn that a 1kg bag of the candy were priced at £17.50. Broadcaster Dan Walker brought attention to the situation when he shared a photo of the product on the shelves on social media and said: "What is happening to us?"

Luckily, we're keeping a close eye on Mini Eggs as Easter approaches. You can pick up a 1kg bag for just £12.50 here.

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