A Frightening Repeat: Second Year Of Double-Digit Candy Inflation

U.S. consumers are grappling with a recurring issue of steep inflation in Halloween candy prices for the second consecutive year. On average, consumers find themselves paying 13% more this month compared to the same period last October.

The latest Grocery Price Index from Datasembly, a retail price tracker, unveiled these alarming statistics on October 11, 2023. This index is formulated based on data from a vast network of over 150,000 stores representing 200+ retail banners nationwide.

It indicates that the increase in the cost of spooky treats surpasses the entire Grocery category, clocking in at 6.7% for the corresponding time frame. According to the tracker, a significant surge in inflation resulted in a national surge of 19.9 % in the “Candy and Gum” category last year.

Now, an additional 12.8% hike from October 2022 through October 7, 2023, is proving to be more of a financial burden than a delightful indulgence for consumers.

This troubling trend comes on top of a 13.1% spike in candy and gum prices in October 2022 compared to the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This jump marked the highest increase ever recorded.

Jessica Weathers, a small business owner from Illinois, expressed her dismay with the inflated candy prices. She stated, “The price of candy has gotten to be outrageous. It doesn’t make sense to me to spend $100 on candy.” Weathers usually buys a substantial amount of candy for trick-or-treaters, plus school and church events during this season. This year, she could only purchase two bags.

Market research firm Numerator’s data indicates that approximately one-third of U.S. consumers opt for off-brand candies over the popular, more expensive options this year. Dee-Ann Durbin, a business writer, attributes the primary cause of these escalating prices to adverse weather conditions.

She notes, “Cocoa prices are trading at 44-year highs after heavy rains in West Africa caused limited production in the season that began last fall. Now, El Nino conditions are making the region drier and are likely to linger well into the spring.”

Dan Sadler, the principal of client insights at market research firm Circana, warns that there may be no respite from these high prices, at least through the first half of 2024.

Kelly Goughary, a senior research analyst at agricultural analytics firm Gro Intelligence, shared a warning about Ivory Coast. The major cocoa producer responsible for around 40% of the world’s cocoa is preparing for one of its worst droughts in two decades.

Moreover, global sugar prices are rising, hitting 12-year highs. They are partly driven by adverse weather conditions that affect sugar-producing countries like India and Thailand. These combined factors contribute to the surging candy prices not only in the United States but also worldwide.

Even Aldi, known for its excellent discount grocery options, has felt the impact. They are selling a 250-piece variety pack of Milky Way, Twix and Snickers candy bars for $24.98, up from $19.54 just two years ago.

Reports revealed that Hershey is also adjusting its prices. Over the last seven quarters, the chocolate industry titan has consistently increased its prices by 7% or more, which is now affecting demand. Their North American confectionery sales volumes declined by 1% in the July-September period.

Hershey’s President and CEO, Michele Buck, acknowledged the concern. They stated, “We know that value and affordability continue to be top priorities for consumers as budgets are stretched.