diamond geezer

 Wednesday, January 14, 2015

So, Creme Eggs.

Fewer, dearer, and less chocolatey... what's not to hate?

Here's the scandalous photo I tweeted on Saturday.

Last year, and for umpteen years previously, you could buy Creme Eggs in 3s or 6s. This year they come in 5s instead. Outrageous!

It looks like consumers are getting a worse deal, and indeed they are, even though the price of a box has fallen.

2014: Box of 6 Creme Eggs = £3.05 (equivalent to 51p each)
2015: Box of 5 Creme Eggs = £2.85 (equivalent to 57p each)

The recommended retail price of a box may have been reduced, but the individual price of a boxed Creme Egg has risen by 6p. That's a whopping 12% increase (or 24 times the rate of inflation, if you'd prefer to see it that way).

Another way to view the price hike is to compare the price of a boxed Creme Egg to that of a Creme Egg bought separately, which was and remains 60p. Last year a multipack saved you 9p per Creme Egg, whereas this year it only saves you 3p.

Cadbury's PR machine have been busy on Twitter defending their decision. We'll revisit some of their smugtweets as today's post progresses.
• Please allow us to eggsplain: the only reason we’ve changed our packs is rising costs.
• We’re not trying to be cheeky (this time), we’re just selling Creme Eggs in 5 packs as the cost to make them continues to rise
• This is a sticky situation! Rising costs have meant we’ve changed our packs but also reduced RRP. Retailers set the final price.
• Our 3 packs aren't as popular anymore, which is a shame. But we've made a 5 pack instead to cater for all you Creme Egg lovers!
• There’s a reduced RRP of £2.85 for the Creme Egg 5 pack, but the price that retailers sell at is down to them we’re afraid.
Cadbury have two arguments, the first of which is that their ingredients now cost more than they used to. Fine, I'm sure they do, but to conceal this by crowing about "reduced RRP" is marketingspeak of the basest order.

As for the second argument, that retailers set the final price, yes of course they do, but that's merely a smokescreen to divert attention away from the recommended retail price, which is entirely under Cadbury's control.

You may be thinking "and I bet they've made the eggs smaller this year too", but they haven't. A Creme Egg still weighs 40g (or 39g depending on whether it's right to round up or down) which, although smaller than in the distant past, remains the same weight as last year.
• They're the same size as always, promise!
The big furore in the media has been the revelation that Cadbury have changed the composition of the chocolate they use to wrap the fondant centre. Previously it's been Dairy Milk, and this year it's a "standard cocoa mix chocolate".

We're told that the altered composition is in part the outcome of consumer research. "We tested the new one with consumers." said a spokesman for the company. "It was found to be the best one for Creme Egg, which is why we’ve used it this year." Yeah right.

If Cadbury had been proud of their change, like say Coke rebranding their cola, they'd have announced the fact in a blaze of publicity at the start of the season. Not so. Instead the change of recipe snuck out only when consumers noticed, and the whiff of a cover-up hangs in the air.

Of course nobody's sorry, indeed Cadbury are attempting to claim there's no material change.
• Hi David, our eggs still use Cadbury chocolate just not Cadbury Dairy Milk in this instance.
• Hiya, as you know, not all of our products are made of Cadbury Dairy Milk, but they're still made of special Cadbury chocolate
• The basic ingredients are the same as they've always been - Cadbury milk chocolate and the unique creme centre we all love.
They wouldn't dare try this argument the other way round, of course, claiming that any old chocolate is as good as Dairy Milk because it contains the same ingredients. But just how much of a change to the composition of a Creme Egg have they undertaken?

I must be one of the few people in the country to own both a 6-pack box from last year and a 5-pack box from this year. So I've looked on each box to confirm the ingredients list, and I can reliably report back the following.

(per 40g egg)
(per 40g egg)
Milk Solids 20% minimum  14% minimum 
Energy185 kcal177 kcal
(of which sugars)26.5g26.5g
(of which saturates) 4.1g3.7g

So the big change is the reduction in milk solids, previously 20% of the milk chocolate, now cut drastically to 14%. It's fairly obvious really, that any replacement of a chocolate called 'Dairy Milk' is bound to contain less milk. More specifically it's cut back the amount of fat in a Creme Egg by approximately 10%, or about half a gram, and also reduced the amount of protein.

A useful byproduct for those attempting to watch their weight is that a Creme Egg now contains 8 fewer calories than last year. But as for the amount of sugar, that's apparently unchanged at 26.5g, which you could see as good, or you could see as shovelling seven sugar cubes into your mouth and therefore just as unwise as ever.

There's been a corresponding change to the order of the ingredients listed on the box, with the amount of milk in the new eggs now less than the amount of sugar.

2014: Milk, sugar, glucose syrup, cocoa butter...
2015: Sugar, milk, glucose syrup cocoa butter...

In excellent news, my 6-pack box isn't empty, I still have one Creme Egg left over from last Easter. So I can now undertake a proper taste test to check how different the old recipe tastes from the new...

First of all the old Creme Egg. OK, it may be six months past its sell-by date, but the chocolate still tastes just as Dairy Milky as you'd expect.

And then (after a suitable palate cleanser) the new Creme Egg. Once unwrapped its chocolate now looks a fraction darker to my eyes, or perhaps I'm seeing things. On first bite it tastes much the same as the old, with that rush of sweet gooey fondant overtaking the flavour of the chocolate. Indeed at this point I'd be hard pushed to tell that anything had changed if I hadn't been told, which might invalidate the nature of the experiment somewhat. But the last bite, which in my case invariably contains the chocolatey bowl at the bottom, has left a subtly different aftertaste to what I'm used to. It's not as creamy, perhaps more sweet... and I think I'm going to agree with Chris when he says it tastes a lot more like the sort of chocolate you'd get in a Wispa.

Last year the Cadbury's Dairy Milk Creme Egg, this year the Cadbury's Wispa Creme Egg. That's the major material difference, I'd say, plus the fact Cadbury have whacked up the price despite the ingredients presumably costing less.

I'm still going to eat them, of course, because I like Creme Eggs and they haven't fiddled with the recipe enough to push me away. But I'll probably buy fewer this year, as a nod to Cadbury that tweaking a well-loved recipe and keeping quiet about it is a textbook exercise in throwing away the goodwill of your customers.
• It's still Cadbury chocolate :)
And you can shut up, OK?

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