The maker of Cadbury Creme Eggs has defended the controversial change of recipe to the seasonal favourite after its Easter lines lost millions in sales last year.
Research by analysts IRI for trade magazine The Grocer found that the brand’s best-selling Easter lines lost more than £10 million in sales in 2015, narrowing its market share from 42% to 40%.
The report says that the Creme Egg was the biggest loser after US owner Mondelez sparked outrage among chocolate fans last year by changing the recipe so that the shell is made from standard, traditional Cadbury milk chocolate instead of the popular Cadbury Dairy Milk.
A spokeswoman for Cadbury said that industry recognised data from Nielsen, which showed a loss for 2015 of £7 million overall, not £10 million.
US giant Kraft Foods bought Cadbury in 2010 and its global snacks business under the name of Mondelez International.
The now familiar Cadbury Creme Egg first hit the shelves in 1971.
The IRI study said filled and shell Creme Eggs lost more than £6 million after the recipe change.
However, Mondelez has insisted that the recipe remains exactly the same as the 1971 original.
The company said in a statement: “The fundamentals of the Cadbury Creme Egg remain exactly the same as the original in the 1971 recipe with delicious Cadbury chocolate and a unique gooey creme filling.
“In fact, only six out of 45 years of gooey history saw the shell made with Cadbury Dairy Milk.
“Cadbury remains the number one treat at Easter. The Easter season changes every year depending on when Easter falls. It was two weeks shorter in 2015 than 2014 so it’s hard to compare like for like. This is why most of the big chocolate brands show a fall in revenue for 2015 against 2014.
“We are proud to be the nation’s favourite at Easter and we will continue to strengthen our position by investing in power brands and launching new seasonal products.”
The “first ever Cadbury Creme Egg Cafe” will also open in London on January 22 for a limited time ahead of Easter.
The IRI report said sales of Cadbury Egg ‘n’ Spoon, launched in 2012, also fell by £1.2 million as average prices fell by nearly a fifth, partly as a result of fiercer deals and strong growth for own label and the discounters.
The Grocer said that competition is heating up with Mars’ January launch of Galaxy Golden Eggs, its extension of the Malteaster bunny range with a new family pack and Ferrero’s launch of Kinder Joy among notable new product developments.