Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Foods of Easter in Brazil - Chocolate Easter Eggs

For Brazilians, Easter is THE time to eat chocolate, specifically in the form of chocolate Easter eggs. Some chocolate is part of the holiday foods of Christmas season, but only incidentally so. Brazilians don't celebrate St. Valentine's Day in February, instead they celebrate the Dia dos Namorados (Lovers' Day) in June, but chocolate isn't a great part of it. Easter, however, is an orgy of chocolate in this country which is the birthplace of the cacao tree.

It's impossible to avoid chocolate Easter eggs in Brazil during the Lenten season. TV is saturated with ads for them, bus shelters and buses themselves are plastered with ads,  and shops are filled, sometimes literally, with Easter Eggs. In all the major supermarkets and big-box stores, so many Easter eggs are on display that there is no room to put them on the shelves. Instead, temporary structures are built in all the aisles, and the eggs are hung from them, overhead the shoppers, just within reach. Traditionally the eggs are wrapped in brightly covered foil, so entering a supermarket aisle at Easter time is like walking into a cave roofed with sparkling, glittery chocolate-filled stalactites (or is it stalagmites?)  Here's a photo to give you an idea of the effect.

The variety of eggs sold each year in Brazil, and the size of the market, are both enormous. Eggs range in from minuscule  to ginormous, and in price from a few reais (approx. $1.00 USD) to thousands of reais. Special luxury eggs are sometimes priced at well over $10,000 USD.

Whatever the price, the 2010 "crop" of Easter eggs in Brazil will be approximately 5% higher than last year, according to APAS (Associação Paulista de Supermercados), a supermarket-industry association. APAS blames the price increase on this year's higher global price for sugar (which in turn is blamed on the failure of the sugar harvest in India), and on higher prices in Brazil for cocoa butter (blamed on the rise of the dollar against the real). Ironically, almost all the cocoa butter used in manufacture of chocolate in Brazil is imported, even though the product is produced here. According to a spokesperson for APAS, "the domestic product does not provide the taste that Brazilians appreciate in chocolate."

Nonetheless, even with higher prices, the chocolate industry in Brazil is expecting that sales of Easter eggs in 2010 will be about 7-10% greater than last year, when the economic crisis had an impact on the market. Brazilian consumers are more confident and optimistic about the economy this year, and increased sales of Easter eggs is one of the results.

Whether sales rise 5% or not, the consumption of Easter eggs in Brazil is astoundingly high. Expected volume in 2010 according to industry experts will be about 25.5 thousand tons, which works out to approximately 100 million Easter eggs. With a population of 200 million persons, that's half an egg for every Brazilian, from infant to great-granny, to enjoy during the Easter season.

3 comments:

  1. here's how to remember stalactites vs. stalagmites: stalaCtites, with a C, for Ceiling; stalaGmites, with a G, for ground. :-)

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  2. Thanks for the mnemonic device, Heather! I'd never heard it, but it's easy to remember. Now I'll never have to look up those words again.
    Cheers,
    JAMES

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