Does The Easter Bunny Have A Sustainable Supply Chain?

Richard Howells

In my family, the kids have always loved the Easter Bunny. What’s not to like? Every year, the Easter basket is full of candy – and as everybody knows, it’s the Easter Bunny who filled it!

The tradition of the Easter Bunny, at least in part, seems to go back to Osterhase or Oschter Haws – the Easter Bunny of Germanic and Northwest European roots. This Easter bunny, however, was a bit judgmental. As Wikipedia puts it, the Easter Bunny “originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide.”

In our house, with three rambunctious sons, the Easter Bunny has had to be much more forgiving!!

What about those eggs?

There appears to be some confusion over where the eggs come from. Apparently, phrases like “do bunnies lay eggs?” are searched up to 10,000 times a month.

Let’s be clear, the Easter Bunny brings the eggs, he doesn’t lay them. Rabbits are symbols of fertility (after all, they do breed like rabbits). Eggs, too, are symbols of fertility (for obvious reasons). The two, I suppose, were merged in pagan legend and transferred over to Christianity centuries ago in Europe.

Where does the chocolate come from?

Somewhere along the line, real eggs became chocolate eggs – and let’s be honest, chocolate eggs are what the kids want most. This makes Easter big business for chocolate manufacturers. In fact, it is estimated that $2.6 billion was spent on Easter candy in general last year, making it the second most popular candy-buying holiday after Halloween. And it is estimated that Cadbury makes over 500 million of those delicious cream eggs (flashback to my youth) every year.

This requires a lot of chocolate that has ingredients sourced from all over the world.

At the very source of the Easter egg supply chain is its main ingredient, the cocoa bean. To keep up with the growing demand for chocolate, over 3 million tons of cocoa beans are harvested annually, with over 90% coming from individual farmers who survive solely on the income cocoa brings. It is also estimated that 60% of the global cocoa supply comes from West Africa, where objectionable child labor practices are a concern.

The sustainable solution

So, to tackle the issue, most major chocolate manufacturers have launched sustainability programs aimed at:

  • Eradicating child labor from the supply chain
  • Lifting cocoa farmers out of poverty
  • Enabling carbon and forest positive practices
  • Producing products with 100% sustainable ingredients

There are also organizations such as Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance that provide certifications for cocoa products, which consumers can use to minimize the environmental impact of cocoa production.

In the end, though, such programs need real, verifiable traceability if they are to succeed.

What’s needed is an immutable record to demonstrate the ethical provenance of cocoa used in Easter candy. With technologies such as blockchain, a manufacturer can track all the farmers it works with and verify and trace the cocoa as it is transported, warehoused, and processed across the supply chain. Using mobile phones with geolocation, the blockchain could record the exact location of the cocoa beans for every order. This could then be tracked as it gets transported and transformed into liquid chocolate and finally molded into delicious Easter treats.

Imagine if you could scan the QR code on your Easter egg to ensure and evaluate the ethical sourcing of the raw materials to make the chocolate.

So, this Easter, give some thought to where the chocolate eggs in your basket come from. But don’t stop there. The need for ethical sourcing doesn’t end with chocolate. Other examples include coffee beans, the raw materials for apparel, and the minerals and metals used in high tech products. Blockchain is a promising solution to help make ethical sourcing a reality, but only a sustained and clearly articulated expectation for full transparency from customers will lead to change.

Download the IDC report “Leveraging your intelligent digital supply chain” to find out how an end-to-end digital supply chain – from design and planning to manufacturing, logistics, and operations – addresses the operational pressures of tracing good across the supply chain to drive sustainable processes. 

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About Richard Howells

Richard Howells is a Vice President at SAP responsible for the positioning, messaging, AR , PR and go-to market activities for the SAP Supply Chain solutions.