Cracks appear in Belgian Easter egg market as COVID-19 lockdown bites

Chocolate eggs on order with names on them are seen at
Chocolate eggs on order with names on them are seen at Copyright Virginia Mayo/AP
By Susan Dabbous
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Easter usually means bumper sales for Belgium's chocolate industry. But this year the coronavirus lockdown is leaving retailers with a bitter taste in their mouths.

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Belgium's coronavirus lockdown has left the country's chocolate industry with a sour taste in its mouth with sales plummeting at what is normally its busiest time of the year: Easter.

Factories have closed, along with some shops. The stores that have remained open are trying to shift stock bought before the pandemic hit.

"For the simple fact that I had half a tonne of chocolate already ordered. I have to try to reduce the losses as much as possible, otherwise I have to close forever," explains Valentina Martinotti, a retailer for Belgian confectionery company Galler.

"I still cannot quantify the losses but what I can say is that the income so far is not even half of what I expected for this period."

With many offices closed, the number of companies ordering gifts for their employees has dramatically fallen.

"Usually I have about fifteen companies that order Easter gifts for their employees, they are companies that have 10-15 employees, but sometimes I have orders for 100 or 150 people," added Martinotti. "Well this year I had zero orders."

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