Did you know that at least 20% of the Easter eggs on sale in New Zealand this Easter will be made with cocoa produced by kids? Children who commonly work 12 hour days in very harsh conditions. Who would want to support that?
Fortunately, you don’t have to! There are now certifications available that let you know someone’s been checking that kids aren’t working on the cocoa farms. We’ve put together a list: it’s got a huge range of Easter eggs, bunnies and other Easter chocolate, including everything from cheap and cheerful options for the kids to products from a company that recently placed in the New Zealand chocolate awards. Unfortunately we still don’t know of any child labour free options for classic chocolate marshmallow eggs and the list is a bit light on filled eggs. To help fill those gaps, we finish with links to a few recipes.
We’ve got a long list, but there’s quite likely child-labour-free Easter chocolate available that we’ve missed. If you’re interested in Easter chocolate that’s not on our list, how can you know whether it’s child labour free? Easy! Look for one of the following marks on the packaging: if any of those are there you can be confident someone’s checked to make sure no kids were working on the cocoa plantation.
NB on imported products there’s often been a sticker put on the back of the product giving the nutritional information etc. that is legally required in New Zealand. These stickers often obscure the marks you’re looking for (here’s an example of that): if you see such a sticker, look closely to see if any relevant marks are hidden underneath - in our example you’ll spot the certification at the bottom in the middle.
Fairtrade. If you see the black-background version of the logo above, that is your best choice. It means that both the sugar and the cocoa in the product were made in Fairtrade conditions, along with anything else used that has a slavery risk (e.g. vanilla or coffee). Not only has the supply chain been audited for forced labour and child labour, auditors also checked working conditions were safe and that a premium price was paid to the farmers.
The white-background version of the logo certifies that those same Fairtrade audits took place, but they were just done for the cocoa itself, not for the other ingredients in the chocolate. It’s still a good choice, as cocoa is the chocolate ingredient with the highest risk of both child and forced labour.
UTZ/Rainforest Alliance. These are by far the marks you’re most likely to see on child-labour-free Easter treats this year. Like the white version of the Fairtrade logo, they only certify the working conditions used to produce the cocoa, not the other ingredients. UTZ and Rainforest Alliance used to be two separate organisations (hence the two very different logos) but they’re in the process of merging and will eventually only use the smoother version of the two green frog logos. All of these marks currently guarantee the same standards as each other, and you can be confident that the cocoa in anything displaying any of the above logos was produced without child or slave labour and that the farmers were paid a small premium above the regular market price.
Note that many Nestle products don’t display either the UTZ or RA logo and, instead, have a statement like that at the right, saying they ‘work with’ UTZ or Rainforest Alliance. We have checked and that does mean they are UTZ or RA certiifed.
If Nestle rings ethical alarm bells for you, read here about why we’re generally OK to buy from them these days.
So, on to the list! We start with products where all ingredients are Fairtrade, then list ones that are made with certified cocoa only, and finish with recipes to make your own. There’s lots of options this year (which is fantastic!), so click on the links in the table of contents if you want to go directly to something in particular.
Update April 12th: new Rainforest Alliance certified Easter chocolate from Klett has recently landed at Countdown. There’s larger bunnies, a bag of bunnies, chicks and eggs, a seated bunny and a bag of eggs.
These are your best option in terms of worker treatment - all ‘risky’ ingredients (cocoa and sugar as well things like vanilla or hazelnuts) have been produced in Fairtrade conditions.
Tonys Chocolonely are selling the only eggs we’ve seen this year that have the fully Fairtrade label on the packaging! They’re selling a 12-pack of mixed-flavour eggs (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark almond sea salt, milk caramel sea salt, milk hazelnut) in an actual egg carton! $11 both online and at Farros.
The Remarkable Chocolate Co is selling three flavours of Easter eggs this year. There are no certification marks on the packets, but on their website they claim to be ‘fairly traded’. From correspondence, we have learned this means they make their products from certified Fairtrade couverture, although the final products are not certified.
They are selling 6-packs of milk, dark and raspberry eggs for $15 both at Farros or online from their own website; you can also buy bags of 10 eggs (either a mixed bag of dark and raspberry or a bag of milk chocolate eggs) for $20 from the same places. The Remarkable Chocolate Company has won many prizes in the New Zealand Chocolate awards over the years, so these are bound to taste good! Free from gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and palm oil; plastic-free packaging for the six-packs.
The Remarkable Chocolate Co (mentioned above) is also selling bunnies. You can buy their plain dark or raspberry dark chocolate bunnies from Countdown for around $15 for a 120g bunny; on their own website you can buy both of those, as well as a ginger caramel bunny - all $17. Award-winning chocolate that’s free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and palm oil.
There are a vast range of options made with certified cocoa. These aren’t as good from a worker point-of-view as products where the cocoa and sugar are both certified but, as cocoa is the ingredient at by far the highest risk of having labour abuses in it’s supply chain, they are still good options.
The Nestle range of large eggs is available at most supermarkets and The Warehouse. We’ve seen Rolo, Smarties, Aero, Kitkat and Milky Bar eggs, ranging in size from 65g-254g and in price from $4 to $12. These are made with cocoa that has been certified by Rainforest Alliance. with their logo usually clearly displayed on the packaging.
All Waikato Valley’s boxed eggs are Rainforest Alliance certified, although be aware their loose eggs are not (Waikato Valley is currently transitioning to Rainforest Alliance certification for all products, and expects to have everything made with certified cocoa by Easter 2023). They’re sold exclusively at The Warehouse. They have something for everyone!
105g milk chocolate egg with sweets inside ($4):
Waikato Valley is selling four ‘luxury’ large boxed eggs exclusively at The Warehouse:
All made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa; $12 each.
The Warehouse is stocking three NOMO eggs, which are free from dairy, gluten and egg. They don’t have the Rainforest Alliance logo on but we have learned from the company website that they only use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa. The caramel egg (which comes with two small chocolate bars) is $14, 186g; both the creamy and the caramel and sea salt eggs are $10, 110g.
We have seen the So Free vegan salted caramel egg at various organic and vegan stores - Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa and around $12 for 110g (includes a bunny bar). Their white chocolate egg and their milk chocolate alternative egg are also Rainforest Alliance certified (and vegan). We’re not sure about their “dark no added sugar” egg - either it’s not, or websites are displaying last year’s photo.
The Warehouse is selling 50g Smarties Funny Eggs for $2.50. The manufacturer, Nestle Hungary, has confirmed these are made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa.
We have seen Rainforest Alliance certified box-sets of Chocolatier eggs at both Countdown, New World and Fresh Choice; around $12 for a 150g set of 6 eggs. There are two varieties: Indulgence (mix of white, milk and dark chocolates) and Decadent (various flavours in dark chocolate).
At The Warehouse Waikato Valley Chocolates has a similar box, also Rainforest Alliance certified, 150g with 6 eggs. Theirs has a mix of white, milk and dark chocolates and sells for $10.
Nestle Milkybar and Smarties egg hunt packs (8 eggs for around $7) are widely available - look for them at The Warehouse or your local supermarket. Rainforest Alliance certified.
Kmart is selling a very sweet boxed-set of 5 mini decorated eggs. Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa, 130g for $7.
The Warehouse has a “Nice”-branded box of mini milk chocolate eggs with bunny ears. Rainforest Alliance cocoa, $5, 56g.
Countdown and Fresh Choice supermarkets are selling mini foil-wrapped eggs in the same three flavours (solid milk chocolate, milk chocolate popping candy and caramel milk chocolate). Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa, $3.50 for 150g.
The Warehouse is selling a mixed flavour share bag from Waikato Valley, with popping candy, hokey pokey, caramel and cookies and cream eggs. Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa, 320g for $12.
The Warehouse also has “Nice” branded mini eggs in solid milk chocolate (200g and 650g bags, $2.50 and $9 respectively), popping candy ($2.50 for 200g) and strawberry ($2.50 for 200g) flavours. They also have a mixed flavour bag, 500g for $6. These all have the UTZ logo on the packaging, which is equivalent to Rainforest Alliance certification.
Kit kat Easter bunnies - Rainforest Alliance-certified, 29g and selling for around $1 at a wide range of outlets. These are more chocolatey/less biscuity than regular kitkats.
The 85g After Eight bunny, available from The Warehouse and various supermarkets for $4-$5. The manufacturer, Nestle Hungary, has confirmed its made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa.
Countdown and Fresh Choice are stocking a hollow chocolate bunny filled with smarties; Rainforest Alliance certified, 94g for around $5-$6
Countdown and Fresh Choice are stocking the Rainforest Alliance certified 125g Buddy Bunny made by the Belgian company Hamlet (around $5).
Also at Countdown and Fresh Choice are several Rainforest Alliance certified bunnies made by German company Klett. You can buy single 60g foiled Easter bunnies or a 400g bag that seems to include a whole family of Easter bunnies as well as several Easter eggs; $1.50 and $10 respectively.
The Warehouse is stocking a 60g UTZ certified “Nice” Easter bunny either as a single or as a 12-pack ($10). They also have Waikato Valley Chocolate’s monster 500g Easter bunny ($16.50), made with Rainforest Alliance certified. Note that the Waikato Valley foil-wrapped Easter bunnies aren’t made with certified cocoa (although they expect they will be next year) - just this boxed one.
Bags of mini Kit kat bunnies are widely available. Rainforest Alliance certified and around $4-$5 for a 66g bag.
The Warehouse is stocking a 30g NOMO bunny, which is free from dairy, gluten and egg. It doesn’t have the Rainforest Alliance logo on but we have learned from the company website that they only use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa. $2.
At several vegan and whole food stores we have seen the dairy-free So Free vegan salted caramel bunny - 25g for around $4. This is made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa, although the milk chocolate alternative bunny from the same company does not appear to be.
From the same company they have 55g Easter figurines, also Rainforest Alliance certified, for around $2.
The Warehouse is selling a range of licensed branded Easter products made by Park Avenue. These are all made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa. However, not all Park Avenue products currently being imported here are made with certified cocoa. If you see Park Avenue Easter chocolate at other shops, please check for the Rainforest Alliance logo before buying - it’s the green frog in a circle.
If you’re after Easter hot chocolate, Kmart is selling a mini crate of 4 cocoa bombs - Rainforest Alliance certified, 52g, $7. The Warehouse has the Park Avenue hot chocolate melt, which has mini marshmallows inside - 45g, $4, Rainforest Alliance certified.
The Warehouse is also selling a “Nice” chocolate bunny decorating kit, containing a chocolate bunny, icing and sprinkles. UTZ certified,115g for $6.50.
From Kmart and Rainforest Alliance-certified is a set of light-up bunny ears with an Easter egg ($6, 60g egg), an Easter egg decorating kit with a flat chocolate egg ($6, 140g) and Easter chocolate freckles (70g, $3.50) in both bunny and Easter egg shapes.
At The Warehouse there are two soft toy bunnies boxed with chocolate eggs - one from Park Avenue, the other from Waikato Valley Chocolates. Both $12, both Rainforest Alliance certified (although we have no idea if the soft toys were made in slave-free conditions - slavery’s a big issue in the textile industry).
If you want child-labour free chocolate-coated marshmallow eggs your only option is to make your own using fairly traded chocolate; making your own also gives you more options for small eggs with flavoured fillings.
We have recipes for marshmallow eggs (both regular and vegan) as well as creme eggs (both classic vanilla and peppermint - the peppermint ones are also vegan) and eggs with a hazelnut/chocolate filling.
To make regular marshmallow eggs (recipe), you need a strong electric beater and some gelatine - a cooking thermometer also helps. They take a while to do as the marshmallow takes around four hours to set, but they’re pretty straight-forward and are reasonably easy to do with primary-aged children.
If you’re wanting to make vegan marshmallow eggs (which are also a better choice for vegetarians, pregnant people and people with religious restrictions on meat-eating, such as Muslims and Hindus) instructions are here.
Hard-shelled eggs are best made with moulds: you can buy a range here. I use their small cracked egg mould, which makes eggs a bit smaller than commercial creme eggs. If you’re buying moulds elsewhere, make sure you get hard plastic ones not flexible silicone ones - filled chocolates tend to collapse when made in silicone moulds. But, if you’re reading this just before Easter and it’s too late to buy moulds, check out the instructions towards the end of the creme egg recipe on how to make filled eggs without them. Just be warned that they will come out a bit munted!
Hazelnut eggs are very easy to make - the hardest part is likely sourcing some hazelnut butter! Try your local health food store, and make sure you’re buying hazelnut butter made from New Zealand hazelnuts. Child labour is a huge issue in the Turkish hazelnut industry and Turkey dominates the world market.
Creme eggs are more tricky (especially the classic white and yellow vanilla ones) and require a strong beater and some invertase (an enzyme that makes the filling gooey - look for it at shops that specialise in cake baking supplies); a sugar thermometer is also handy.