Sweet Shock: US Candy Prices Surge with Double-Digit Inflation

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
November 7, 2023News
Sweet Shock: US Candy Prices Surge with Double-Digit Inflation
A customer shops for Halloween candy at a Walmart Supercenter store in Austin, Texas on Oct. 24, 2023. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The rising price of candy doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon, with U.S. shoppers facing double-digit inflation in the candy aisle for the second year in a row.

Throughout October, candy prices were up by an average of 13 percent when compared to the same period last year.

This amounts to more than double the increase in all grocery prices, as well as a 14 percent increase in candy and gum prices in October 2022, according to retail price tracker Datasembly.

“The price of candy has gotten to be outrageous. It doesn’t make sense to me to spend $100 on candy,” said Jessica Weathers, a small business owner in Shiloh, Illinois.

While she used to buy larger volumes of candy for trick-or-treaters for Halloween and school and church events, this year, she only bought two bags and planned to turn off her porch light on Halloween when she ran out. And she is not the only one.

Other consumers also changed their approach for Oct. 31. According to a recent survey by market research firm Numerator, roughly 30 percent of U.S. consumers had planned to switch to value or store brands when buying candy for Halloween this year.

NTD Photo
Trick-or-Treaters dressed as chickens run together after receiving candy in the Allandale neighborhood in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 31, 2023. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

So, what are the causes of this rapid price spike?

One main factor is weather anomalies around the world. For example, heavy rains in West Africa have severely affected the price of cocoa, which is currently at a 44-year high. The rains have been responsible for vastly reduced production this season, which started last fall.

This is now followed by El Nino conditions, which are drying out the region and which will likely last until well into spring 2024.

According to Dan Sadler, principal of client insights for market research firm Circana, it’s unlikely that any price relief will happen through the first half of 2024.

Moreover, Ivory Coast, which produces almost half of the world’s cocoa, is already showing signs of one of its worst droughts in two decades, according to Kelly Goughary, a senior research analyst with agricultural analytics firm Gro Intelligence.

Ms. Goughary added that global sugar prices are at 12-year highs. This was exacerbated by heavy monsoon rains that hit India, the world’s second-largest sugar producer after Brazil, and resulted in the country banning sugar exports for the first time in seven years. Production in Thailand has also been affected.

Hershey S Chocolates
Hershey’s chocolate bars on July 16, 2014. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Production prices for most candy are additionally driven up by increases in labor and packaging costs, as well as costs for other ingredients, such as peanuts.

To put this into context, a 250-piece variety pack of Mars Inc. chocolate bars—including Milky Way, Twix, and Snickers, was previously advertised at just under $20 two years ago by discount grocery chain Aldi. The price now stands at nearly $25.

Hershey Co. has raised its prices by at least 7 percent in each of the last seven quarters. This month, the company said that higher prices are seriously affecting demand, with North American confectionery sales volumes falling by 1 percent in the July-September period.

“We know that value and affordability continue to be top-of-the-line for consumers as budgets are stretched,” Hershey’s CEO Michele Buck said on a conference call with investors last week.

Mr. Buck said Hershey is trying to meet consumers’ needs with offerings in value stores and pack sizes at various price points.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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