Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – finding the sweet spot in Easter egg logistics

by Maersk Europe

Easter is a celebration of undeniable historical and religious significance around the globe, but for so many in the western world Easter is synonymous with one thing: chocolate.

The origins of the chocolate egg can be traced back to 19th century Europe, and it’s safe to say they’ve evolved to become a staple of the Easter festivities across the continent since.

In fact, Finder‘s research indicates that the Easter egg market in the United Kingdom alone stood at an estimated €475 million in 2022, with consumers paying 68 percent more for egg-shaped chocolate over their standard bar counterparts of the same weight.

It’s little wonder that chocolate retailers and manufacturers are looking to profit from the Easter season, but getting the logistics balance right to maximize revenue can be something of a challenge.

End-to-end balance

Easter eggs are, of course, seasonal products, which means consumer demand will fluctuate throughout the year and plummet at the end of the traditional three-day period. Retailers therefore face difficulties in accurately predicting the quantities and frequency of orders, while manufacturers have sourcing and transport challenges to overcome.

Being a relatively short period, the Easter product range normally isn’t produced inside the same factories as year-round chocolate and instead sourced from outside the usual network. This will have an impact on lead times to market and potentially affect the product age upon arrival – and as retailers typically only accept confectionery products with more than 70 percent of their eight to 12-month shelf life left, it’s even more critical.

Find the sweet spot

Logistics operations are indeed crucial for finding that sweet spot to eliminate the risk of wasted produce, but transport itself isn’t without its complexities. Easter eggs are fairly fragile in nature, which means storage and transport must be performed safely in order to minimize the risk of damage.

Special protective packaging is used to limit and prevent such damage in transit, although this adds to the cost of the overall product, takes up more space and makes it more challenging to send to its final destination.

Product packaging itself is another way logistics service providers come into the picture with Easter eggs, helping manufacturers to overcome specific localization challenges for markets through Europe. Value-added services cater to seasonality and geographical requirements such as artwork updates or indeed packing activities from within storage facilities, making sure all products are fit for their target region before clearance.

Warehouses serve an even greater purpose through the Easter period, too. As around 70 percent of the season’s product volume is purchased in the three weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, the majority of stock will be in storage for just three months before the season.

Retailers are stocking Easter eggs earlier and earlier in order to gain a competitive advantage, meet early consumer demand and avoid stock issues, but having products on the shelves for those all-important three weeks is the big priority.

So although the peak for buying is a short period of time, there is a undeniable need for vast storage solutions. If your logistics partner can provide strategic storage at regional consolidation hubs, you can keep inventory in one place and shift it across markets in line with consumer demand.

Not only can this maximize revenue in terms of consumer exposure and purchasing, but it also limits overstocking possibilities by continuing to serve a number of eager markets.

Mini chocolate eggs in cake nest

Post-Easter problems

After Easter Sunday, demand for Easter eggs naturally comes down very sharply and quickly, so if you haven’t planned your inventory accurately, you can be faced with overstocking issues.

To shift leftover Easter stock, retailers generally reduce the price of products to a fraction of their original cost – potentially affecting profit margins and the overall bottom line of the season. Due to their reasonably short shelf life, Easter eggs have to be sold quickly before their expiration date or they’ll to waste; once again impacting financial performance.

In terms of storage, being left with a large number of Easter eggs at the end of the season can take up valuable storage space on your supply chain. It could have a knock-on effect and mean other items aren’t able to be stored, leading to potential opportunities missed when it comes to the next demands of consumers.

All of it added together shows how important planning and managing inventory is around Easter, as well as using logistics support to anticipate and capitalize on demand where possible.

For manufacturers and retailers, Easter is a time of great opportunity, but getting the balancing act right in terms of logistics can be the difference between a fruitful and fruitless holiday period.