Halloween Candy Prices Rise For Second Year Running

U.S. consumers find themselves dealing with a haunting trend as Halloween approaches, with candy prices surging for the second consecutive year. According to Datasembly’s Grocery Price Index, the average cost of sweet Halloween treats has shot up by an unsettling 13% compared to last October.

These alarming figures were unveiled on October 11, revealing that candy inflation is outpacing the broader Grocery category, with a significant increase of 6.7% during the same time frame.

Last year, the “Candy and Gum” category witnessed a national surge of 19.9%, marking a substantial rise.

However, the latest data shows a further 12.8% increase in candy prices from October 2022 to October 7, 2023. For consumers, this trend is becoming more of a trick than a treat, creating a challenging financial landscape. This price surge follows a disquieting 13.1% rise in candy and gum prices in October 2022 compared to the previous year.

Jessica Weathers, a small business owner in Illinois, voiced her concerns, saying, “The price of candy has gotten to be outrageous. It doesn’t make sense to me to spend $100 on candy.” She typically buys a substantial quantity of candy for trick-or-treaters and various events during this season but was limited to purchasing just two bags this time.

Market research firm Numerator has data indicating that approximately one-third of U.S. consumers plan to switch to more affordable off-brand candies this year, departing from the popular, pricier options. Apparently, there are multiple factors contributing to these soaring prices.

Meteorological conditions play a significant role, with heavy rains in West Africa last fall leading to limited cocoa production. Cocoa prices are currently at a 44-year high, and with the ongoing El Niño making the region drier, the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

Dan Sadler, principal of client insights at market research firm Circana, warns that there might be no relief from these escalating prices at least through the first half of 2024. Additionally, the world is grappling with spiking global sugar prices, with India banning sugar exports for the first time in seven years due to monsoon-related damage to the harvest.

Thailand’s sugar output is also down. All of these factors collectively contribute to the rise in candy prices, impacting consumers in the U.S. and around the world. Even discount grocery chain Aldi has raised the price of its 250-piece variety pack of Milky Way, Twix, and Snickers candy bars from $19.54 two years ago to $24.98.

Chocolate giant Hershey is also feeling the pressure, with price hikes of 7% or more in each of the last seven quarters. These increases have taken a toll on demand, leading to a 1% decline in Hershey’s North American sales volumes during the July-September period.

Hershey’s President and CEO, Michele Buck, acknowledges the importance of affordability to consumers, especially as budgets become stretched due to the widespread economic inflation under the current Biden administration.