As Americans prepare to celebrate Halloween, many are in for a shock when they head to the store to stock up on candy for trick-or-treaters. Candy prices have surged for the second consecutive year, with a double-digit inflation of 13% in October compared to last year.
Cocoa and sugar prices have skyrocketed due to various global factors. In West Africa, weather challenges have led cocoa prices to reach 44-year highs, impacting candy prices worldwide. Meanwhile, disrupted supplies from major sugar producers like India and Thailand have driven sugar prices to 12-year highs.
FOR THE SECOND HALLOWEEN IN A ROW, U.S. CANDY INFLATION HITS DOUBLE DIGITS (CNBC)
U.S. shoppers are seeing double-digit inflation in the candy aisle. Candy and gum prices are up an average of 13% this month compared to last October pic.twitter.com/M08nf1gj96
— FXHedge (@Fxhedgers) October 29, 2023
The surge in prices isn’t limited to cocoa and sugar. Increased costs in labor, packaging, and other ingredients have contributed to the soaring prices of candy. For example, the price of a 250-piece variety pack of Mars Inc. chocolate bars at discount grocery chain Aldi has risen from $19.54 two years ago to $24.98 today.
This inflation in candy prices comes at a time when overall grocery prices have risen by 6%. As a result, some consumers are changing their buying habits. Market research firm Numerator reports that about one-third of U.S. consumers plan to opt for value or store brands when buying candy this Halloween.
Some Americans are opting to cut back on Halloween celebrations altogether. Jessica Weathers, a small business owner from Shiloh, Illinois, said she usually buys plenty of candy for trick-or-treaters and events at school and church. But this year, she only bought two bags and plans to turn off her porch light when she runs out.
These rising prices are indicative of the broader economic challenges Americans are facing. A recent Fox News poll found that 91% of registered voters are concerned about inflation and higher prices. Another poll from the Economist/Liberal Patriot found that 41% of respondents are spending much more on grocery staples than last year.
Despite claims from economists and White House spokespersons that inflation is coming down, many Americans remain skeptical. A recent AP/NORC poll found that only 36% approve of Joe Biden’s handling of the economy, while 63% disapprove. Similarly, a Gallup poll found that Republicans have a 14 percentage point advantage over Democrats on keeping the country prosperous over the next several years.
While Americans hope food prices may stabilize, market research firm Circana reports that there may be no price relief in sight, at least through the first half of 2024. In the meantime, Americans will have to brace themselves for another year of Halloween candy sticker shock.
As bad as things are, we haven’t even hit the full recession. When we do, Biden's playbook could deliver Japan-style stagnation that lasts for a decade.
Because the modern recession playbook actually slows the recovery. It happened in 2008. It'll happen again. pic.twitter.com/MBSon43jJH
— Peter St Onge, Ph.D. (@profstonge) October 28, 2023