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Bishops force sale of 'Christian' easter eggs in supermarkets
Many UK children believe that Easter is the celebration of the Easter Bunny's birthday. The Christian egg spells out the real meaning.
- John Bingham
- United Kingdom
- March 8, 2013
An unlikely lobbying campaign led by bishops has paid off after Britain’s biggest supermarkets agreed to stock Easter eggs with a religious theme for the first time.Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-Op bowed to pressure after a three-year “pestering” campaign by figures including the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
Dr Sentamu used his Easter sermon in 2010 to voice alarm after research suggested that millions of children had no idea about the meaning of the main Christian festival.
One poll even found that one in three children thought that it was the “Easter bunny’s birthday”.
But now a range of fair trade eggs in which fluffy rabbits and chicks are replaced by three empty crosses is to go one sale in mainstream stores.
The so-called “Real” Easter eggs are made by The Meaningful Chocolate Company, a Christian fair trade group based in Manchester which donates its profits to charity.
Last year the group was at the centre of an unexpected stand-off between the confectionery giant Cadbury’s the Church of England over the ownership of an “ecclesiastical” shade of purple.
It was advised to redesign the packaging of a range of edible Christmas tree decorations after Cadbury’s, now owned by the US conglomerate Kraft, won a trademark battle over the shade of purple used on its Dairy Milk wrappers.
The group has been selling Christian-themed eggs for the past three year but was forced to rely on online sales and stalls in churches.
But the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, orchestrated the lobbying campaign targeting the directors or companies such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, urging them to consider stocking the eggs.
Dr Sentamu, even used a joint appearance at a public round-table event with one supermarket chief to repeatedly tell him to stock the eggs. The Anglican bishops of Oxford, Chelmsford and Aston also lent their support as did the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Rev peter Smith.
Last year churchgoers also plagued Tesco’s customer service phone line asking that the eggs be stocked.
It has agreed to put them on the shelves in 450 large stores, while Morrison’s and the Co-Op will also have them on sale across the country. Sainsbury’s has agreed a trial at around 50 branches and Waitrose has also agreed to a smaller trial.
Bishop Priddis said: “I wrote to the supermarkets last year encouraging them to stock The Real Easter Egg.
“I am delighted they have taken the challenge seriously.
“The response from Tesco, Morrisons and the Coop has been particularly encouraging. I am sure Sainsbury and Waitrose will also discover real demand for an egg explaining the religious understanding of Easter on the box and which supports charitable projects.
“I encourage shoppers to hunt out a Real Easter Egg and complain if they are not being stocked.”
David Marshall founder of the Meaningful Chocolate Company, said: “It is way to try to reintroduce some spirituality into the market place.
“In most supermarkets it will be the only charity Easter egg and the only thing of its type in the UK. It is the only Easter egg that really targets fair trade at children but most of all it is the only one that explains the meaning of Easter on the box.”
Source: The Telegraph