Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight for Mintel Food and Drink, told ConfectioneryNews.com: “Easter is really big in Brazil, and has been for a long time.”
Brazilians big on Easter
Brazil accounts for 17% of all Easter introductions, more than any other nation, and the Brazilian Easter egg market accounts for between 15-30% of annual chocolate sales, according to Mintel data.
“Brazilians are especially happy to give and receive Easter eggs, which can be extremely elaborate, and the gifting takes place not only between adults and children but also from adult to adult,” said Mongelonsky.
She added that there had been a strew of private label launches, while specialist stores were also anticipating a strong season.
China not so hot on Easter
However, in China, another emerging BRIC market, Easter has yet to take hold.
China is a predominantly agnostic or atheist country (53%), while the majority of Brazilians (65%) are Roman Catholic.
“It is interesting that while Valentine's day and Christmas have been adopted by Chinese as chocolate gifting holidays, Easter has not yet made a dent in that market,” said Mongelonsky.
“ It may be that Christmas and Valentine's day have become more "secularized" - it seems that Easter still has somewhat more of a religious connotation and has not made headway in that ‘non-religious’ market.”
Established markets: US and UK
More established markets such as the US and UK are expecting mixed Easter performance.
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has forecast a slight dip of 1.5% in Easter confectionery sales this year compared to last to $2.125bn because the holiday takes place earlier.
Over a third of seasonal chocolate confectionery sales in the US belong to Easter, putting it ahead of Christmas, Valentine's Day or Halloween, said Mongelonsky.
In the UK, Easter is increasingly about chocolate and less about Christian celebration.
In a recent survey by Consumer Analysis Limited, only 12% of British people initially thought of Jesus at Easter, as opposed to 62% who immediately thought of chocolate.
Seasonal sales in the UK account for 13% of annual confectionery sales, but more consumers give chocolate as a gift at Christmas than they do at Easter.
“But innovation in Easter chocolate in the UK over the past year was quite robust, with 10% of new Easter launches, second behind Brazil,” said Mongelonsky.
Trends and ethics
The analyst said that Christmas still had a big “kid focus” with 17% of new products aimed at kids and many more having "child-attention-getting" elements, without overtly advertising to children.
Ethical chocolate has less traction around Easter. Only 2% of global Easter launches over the last year used certified cocoa such as Fairtrade, compared to 5% of global launches in overall confectionery.
Mongelonsky has also spotted a number of “dual season” products that can double as Easter and Spring gifts, such as introductions from Hershey in the US.