Tuesday 31 March 2015
Eggcellent value or hard-boiled baloney?
Easter is here! The roads are clear in the mornings, the kids are at home causing a racket, and most importantly everybody’s favourite festive sweet is on the shelves.
Easter brings us chocolate by the kilo, and it can be overwhelming trying to find the best Easter egg deals with so many shops and brands available. From cheap but satisfying Aldi home-brand to the luxurious and rich offerings from M&S and Waitrose, there is no end to the amount of choice you have from simply walking down the high-street.
As I was doing my own Easter egg shopping I noticed how cheap some varieties and shops were. Three chocolate bars and an egg for £3? I was always under the impression we paid a premium for our chocolate to be shaped in egg-form, but quick examinations of different brands and shops showed potential for the opposite. So, being the analytics nerd I am, I began researching Easter egg prices with three main objectives:
- Where should I buy my Easter eggs for maximum value
- Which Easter egg offers the most chocolate for the least money
- Is it cheaper to buy Easter eggs than regular chocolate, and should we stock up when they go on sale at the end of the Easter break?
Last week was spent collecting the Easter egg data from online shopping portals for six major retailers – Aldi, ASDA, Iceland, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. So without further ado, let’s see what we discovered using CXAIR!
High quality or just high price?
The first thing I looked at was the average price of an egg per 100 grams of chocolate. Unsurprisingly Aldi is the cheapest, already suggesting brands are excessively priced compared to the home-brand counterparts. Martin Lewis suggests that Aldi beats out the brands on taste but loses out to other supermarket home-branded chocolate – perhaps fortunately, because in any other case this analysis would be over before it’s begun!
Here is further evidence Aldi provides the cheapest chocolate by far. Iceland and Morrison’s had no home branded Easter Eggs on their website. Cadbury undercuts Mars by a small amount, whilst Nestle is a good 50p per 100g more expensive. In what will become a recurring theme Waitrose tops the chart at a staggering £3.78 per 100g of chocolate! At least shopping at Waitrose lives up to the stereotype…
The average price of Easter eggs by type of chocolate. Dark chocolate, being the luxurious and rich cousin of bog standard milk chocolate, appears to have a premium. But is this just another instance of marketing at a premium?
Apparently so! The above chart depicts the average price of dark chocolate only – massively inflated by Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, with Aldi as much as 400% cheaper per 100g.
For comparison here is the price of milk chocolate Easter eggs. Waitrose isn’t that much more expensive here…
It seems the idea of luxury drives the price, rather than the actual cost to create the product, as indicated by Aldi’s consistency. Martin Lewis places Waitrose under Sainsbury’s and ASDA in his taste test, though he only tested individual eggs rather than going on a complete choc-binge. Either way, it seems a higher price is not at all indicative of the quality of the Easter egg – especially not when it comes to dark chocolate!
Bang for your buck
Easter eggs are marketed in four different sizes – small through to extra-large. Larger eggs have more ‘components’, be it Cadbury’s Crème Eggs, chocolate bars, mugs, or sweets, alongside a larger chocolate egg. Surprisingly to me ‘Large’ eggs are nearly as good value as ‘Small’ eggs when looking at overall price per 100g, though ‘Small’ eggs are the best value overall. ‘Extra Large’ eggs seem like you’re paying as much for the packaging as for the chocolate itself.
This chart depicts the number of components by size of the egg. The extra price you pay for an ‘Extra-large’ egg goes on extra variety in your choc, rather than 100% on the size of the egg itself. Premium branded eggs often come in larger sizes too, to keep with that illusion of quality.
Average number of components by brand. Taking the data at face value, the ASDA home-branded Easter egg collection offers a larger variety for the price you pay. Waitrose is at the bottom of the list with their home-branded premium eggs having no bells or whistles attached. Cadbury and Mars offer far more variety than Nestle on average, whereas smaller brands like M&Ms and After Eight try to capitalise on giving variation over their competitors.
Here are the 10 best value per 100g Easter themed chocs. The Aldi home brand Mini Eggs, Buttons and Jelly Jumble offer the best value out of everything we put into CXAIR. The only branded Easter egg to make the list is the KitKat Chunky Chocolate Easter Egg. At medium size and with a chocolate bar on top, this egg is the best value you’re going to get if you love your brands.
Once again Waitrose charge a premium for their shiny biodegradable bags and Heston Blumenthal themed marketing campaigns.
But is it the perfect egg?
The 10 cheapest eggs excluding other Easter-themed products gives us an obvious winner (perhaps because I know what’s coming next). Although the Cadbury Crème Egg Easter Egg has a premium price it also has the third-lowest cost per 100g of any branded piece of Easter confectionary. With four different components the Mars & Friends Easter Egg is as good value, but not to the same extent as the Crème Egg:
Here we can see the overall value of the Crème Egg Easter Egg has been distorted by different size offerings. ‘Medium’ is the best value by far when compared to the ‘Extra Large’ version.
ASDA and Morrison’s both offer this egg for £1. One pound for 100g of egg and two Cadbury Crème Eggs. If you bought the value of the ‘Extra Large’ egg’s worth of ‘Medium’ eggs you would have over 300% more chocolate for your money! And I’m sure your kids would be more pleased with a pile of eggs rather than one – quantity would beat anything, at least when I was younger…
Another one of my favourites, the Mars & Friends Easter Egg, is cheapest at Sainsbury’s. However, the ASDA 3 for 10 deal lets you combine other more (over) priced eggs to make a saving… no! Even taking 33% off the value of the ASDA egg still doesn’t give you the value of Sainsbury’s.
Just stay away from the home brand! All of the above eggs could be combined with your Mars & Friends Easter Egg to get better value than the 3 for 10 deal at ASDA. Iceland, on the other hand, actually marks the price up slightly.
Though the M&Ms Peanut Easter Egg is pretty good in itself. Even so, it doesn’t come close to the 56p per 100g you get with the Cadbury Crème Egg Medium Easter Egg!
Easter Eggs vs Normal Chocolate
It goes without saying here (but I say it anyway) – paying 56p per 100g of chocolate is over 300% cheaper than buying individual chocolate bars (or Cadbury Crème Eggs). When the price drop comes in after Easter it’s a no-brainer to stock up on Easter Eggs, be it for next year or to satisfy your cravings throughout the rest of this one. Of course, there’s the bakers bigger bags hypothesis – the more you have the more you eat, to put it shortly.
Which Shop and Which Brand?
Aldi is by far the cheapest for pure chocolatey value. For overall value Iceland ever so slightly undercuts Sainsbury’s (probably because Iceland is stocking last year’s eggs!), but for the best individual deals Sainsbury’s wins outright! ASDA’s Easter egg’s individual prices are bumped up by the prevalence of the 3 for 10 deal, and again for individual medium sized eggs offers by far the best value in the Cadburys Crème Egg Medium Easter Egg and ASDA Egg Hunt pack.
The Perfect Egg?
Although the Mars & Friends Medium Easter Egg and the M&Ms Peanut Easter Egg offer good value, nothing compares to the Cadbury Crème Egg Medium Easter Egg bought at ASDA. If you are a sucker for brands (or for Crème Eggs) it is the default option on chocolatey goodness. If you don’t care about brands head down to Aldi, especially considering they beat out the brands in the taste test referenced earlier.
Likewise, if white, mint or dark chocolate is your thing go to Aldi – they’re the only shop that price variety at the same price as standard milk chocolate. If you still have that hankering for brands try ASDA – every other shop bumps up the price by adding ‘Dark’ or ‘White’ into the description!
And the Worst?
We all love those little Lindt golden bunnies but unfortunately the small variety is bottom of the value list. At nearly £5 per 100g you’d probably be better off buying an actual small golden bunny rather than this! If you have that hankering for Lindt then get the Lindt Lindor Egg – still expensive at £1.97 per 100g but one of the only offerings of Belgian chocolate on the market. Either way, in this case less is most definitely more – more money!
I’m going a bit chocolate mad. Hopefully I’ve helped you in your Easter egg conundrum, and you won’t spend half as much this year as you did last year. Remember, the better the deal sounds, the better value you’ll probably find somewhere else!
And definitely not at Waitrose…
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