Easter Egg Price Wars Result in Modest Discounts

A broken Icelandic easter egg and the candy inside it.

The price of Easter eggs has gone down in the last couple of weeks as stores compete with pricing strategies. The cheapest chocolate treats can be found in Bónus, Extra and Krónan, while the most expensive eggs are in 10-11, Iceland and Krambúðin, Vísir reports.

In Iceland, Easter eggs are topped with a figurine, most often a yellow chick, and filled with candy along with a piece of paper with a proverb written on it. They are a ubiquitous part of Easter festivities among Icelandic families.

Big difference between stores

The Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASI) has reviewed the prices of Easter eggs and found that the lowest prices have gone done by a few percentage points. On March 8, Heimkaup lowered their prices, with Extra, Bónus and Króna following suit.

The three stores where prices remain unusually high are 10-11, where the Easter eggs cost on average a whopping 40% more than the lowest prices, and Iceland and Krambúðin with a 38% and 37% deviation respectively. The biggest difference was on the price of a small “lava egg” from candy company Góa, which cost ISK 140 [$1, €0.90] in Krónan, but ISK 249 [$1.81, €1.70] in 10-11.

Bónus leads the way

Bónus consistently had the lowest prices, according to ASI’s review. Of the 34 Easter eggs under review in Bónus, the store sold 28 of them at the lowest price. Extra sold 34 of their 48 eggs at the lowest price, while Heimkaup sold 32 of the 46 eggs reviewed at the lowest price.

Iceland’s First Cacao Fruit Made Into Chocolate

Iceland cacao fruit

The first cacao fruit ever grown in Iceland was harvested and made into a chocolate bar recently, RÚV programme Landinn reports. It took 10 years of cultivation at the Horticultural School at Reykir for the cacao plants to mature and bear their first fruit. The dark chocolate made from the fruit at Omnom’s chocolate factory tasted surprisingly like coffee.

Unclear how cacao flower was fertilised

“Cacao plants start to blossom when they become mature around 7-10 years of age. We got the first blossoms three years ago, and since then the plants have gotten more and more blossoms. But it really surprised us when we saw the first fruit this summer,” Guðríður Helgadóttir, a horticulturist at the school told RÚV. “As far as we know, this is the first cacao fruit that has fully ripened in Iceland.”

The cacao seeds were planted at Reykir, located near Hveragerði, South Iceland, in 2013. In their natural environment, cacao plants are fertilised by tiny flies. “The flowers are tiny, and you can see that regular bees couldn’t do the job,” Guðríður explains. Since no such flies exist in Iceland, it’s not clear how the flower that grew into Iceland’s first cacao fruit was fertilised.

Smoky coffee flavour

“It’s really exciting,” said chocolatier and Omnom co-founder Kjartan Gíslason. “There are somewhat fewer beans than I’m used to seeing in a fully-ripe fruit, but considering that it’s the first cacao fruit that has grown in Iceland, it’s very normal that it’s not totally perfect in the first go, but we can definitely do something with it.”

The beans were fermented for nine days, and then taken to the Omnom chocolate factory, where they were roasted and hand-made into small dark chocolates. Guðríður was invited to taste the chocolate. She agreed with Kjartan’s analysis that the flavour was somewhat smoky and reminiscent of coffee, but said the chocolate was “really good!”

First Cocoa Bean Grown in Iceland

cacao plant iceland

The first cocoa beans ever grown in Iceland were recently harvested at the Gardening School of Reykir, making the dream of homegrown Icelandic chocolate one step closer.

Guðríður Helgadóttir, a horticulturist at the Gardening School in Reykir, stated to RÚV that cocoa plants have been cultivated for some 11 years in the banana greenhouse in Reykir, with the hope that one day a cocoa bean would grow on them. Now it seems that the years of work have paid off.

“These plants have been bred for for nearly a decade with the dream of creating Icelandic chocolate. Now, that dream is well within reach,” stated Guðríður. “This is the first cocoa bean to grow in Iceland, as far as we know. The cocoa fruit that we recently produced came from a flower that was fertilized last summer and remained green while it grew and developed into a cocoa pod. So now, it has suddenly turned this beautiful shade of yellow, and that’s when it bloomed, and I honestly can’t believe how we missed it!”

According to Guðríður, the Gardening School at Reykir received two cocoa pods in 2012. Some 80 plants sprouted from the seeds, but of these, only some three survived. But now, after a decade of care, the efforts are finally bearing fruit.

The conditions in the banana greenhouse in Reykir are favourable for cocoa plants, but there are still differences compared to the cocoa plant’s native habitat, making the process of producing usable cocoa rather difficult and complicated.

“In the plant’s native habitat, there are specific flies that pollinate the pods,” Guðríður stated to RÚV. “Of course, we don’t have those flies here, so we were considering whether we should manually pollinate by dabbing with a watercolor brush and mimicking bees by transferring pollen between the flowers. So, it was a bit surprising for us to see pods appearing without any human intervention in the greenhouse!”

With More Icelanders at Home, Chocolate Easter Eggs Sell Out

Icelandic Easter eggs

Icelanders may be sheltering at home, avoiding travel and large family gatherings this Easter, but that hasn’t reduced demand for the country’s beloved chocolate Easter eggs – if anything, it’s only increased it, says Auðjón Guðmundsson, CEO of chocolate company Nói Síríus. Vísir reports that with more Icelanders in the country for the holiday this year, there has been a run on the chocolate egg supply the like of which hasn’t been seen in quite some time.

Indeed, in the lead-up to the holiday, the country’s chocolatiers anticipated that many of their popular páskaegg varieties would sell out this year and encouraged Icelanders to buy their favourite kind early to ensure they weren’t disappointed come Easter Sunday. “We’re working longer and…doing everything we can for Icelanders,” Auðjón told mbl.is last week. “It’s a shame when people don’t get their Easter egg.”

As a matter of fact, Nói Síríus produced more than 800,000 chocolate Easter eggs this year, including several new varieties with different kinds of candy fillings. Even so, several varieties have sold out, leading to the sense that there was a shortage of chocolate eggs this year.

“Neither we nor others were prepared for this situation. It didn’t help that production was a lot more difficult and slower due to the gathering ban,” explained Auðjón. “We tried everything and were pretty pleased with how much we managed to get out in the end. But of course, it’s just wishful thinking that everyone would get their favourite egg – that’s just how it is.”

Easter is usually a popular time for Icelanders to travel outside of the country, something that obviously wasn’t possible this year. Moreover, many Icelanders based abroad have recently returned to the country amidst the COVID-19 crisis. “Without having the exact figures, I would expect that it’s the increased number of Icelanders in the country that played a big part in this,” said Auðjón, referring to the perceived shortage.

The chocolatier also realises what a charmed position he and those in his industry are in right now. It’s difficult to complain about the enormous demand for Easter eggs, he says, at a time when income in so many other industries has evaporated. “We can only be grateful for this. Although, of course, we’d have wanted everyone to get the egg they wanted.”