A new Which? report is targeting chocolates in the run up to Christmas, a key time for confectionary sales.

The report claims to highlight excessive packaging for top brands, including Ferrero Rocher, Thorntons and Cadbury, all of which which fell under the spotlight in a study from the consumer group.

Which? alleges that Ferrero Rocher was the worst for excess wrapping following its study, but according to a BBC report Ferrero defended its use of packaging, saying ‘it’s needed to protect its chocolates’.

Coming second and third in the Which? report were chocolates from Thorntons and Cadbury, although according to Which? both used mostly recyclable material in packaging. The survey also suggests that many shoppers are confused by the recycling symbols which appear on various packaging.

Which? alleges that as much as 42% of the total weight of the Ferrero Rocher collection tray was using only 11% of materials that it found to be recyclable. The packaging of Thorntons’ Continental Selection made up 29.4% of its weight, followed by Cadbury Milk Tray coming in at 22.6%.

At the other end of the scale Lindt’s Lindor Mix reportedly had just 11.5% packaging, the only parts of that product identified as non-recyclable being the individual chocolate wrappers.

In the BBC report the manufacturers of the Ferrero Rocher collection tray are quoted as saying that the “local infrastructure” in the UK didn’t make it possible to recycle a lot of their packaging.

Adding: “It is a delicately created product and the packaging is of fundamental importance to protect our chocolates from damage during transport, in the shops and at home.”

Which? highlight in the report that many shoppers were still unsure what the recycling advice on chocolates actually meant, with just under half (48%) wrongly thinking that a green dot that appears on the side of the box is a sign it can be recycled. The dot actually means that the manufacturer contributes financially into a recycling scheme.

One industry observer told Food Management Today: “This survey along with others highlights the growing and continuing focus on packaging and recycling. Manufacturers who ignore the trends are going to catch a cold longer-term, as the green movement gathers pace.”