Autumn is just around the corner with its promise of colorful leaves, football games, and, of course, the holiday adored by both kids and candy lovers alike—Halloween. But this year, trick-or-treaters may face a scary surprise as one of the world's largest chocolate manufacturers anticipates an unprecedented candy shortage.
In a call on July 28, executives from Hershey—the maker of classic favorites like Reese's, Jolly Ranchers, and Kit Kat—announced that various supply chain issues have haunted their operations this year, causing the production of more seasonal items to be neglected. This means that come time for Halloween there could be a shortage of Hershey candy at grocery stores.
The company explained that the war in Ukraine has made raw ingredients such as edible oil, cocoa, and other candy-making essentials harder to secure. At the same time, Hershey and other confectionery companies have seen staggering demand since the start of the pandemic.
According to the president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association John Downs, the combined chocolate and candy industry saw an 11% sales increase in 2021 compared to the year before. It was the second year in a row more people were buying candy. From 2019 to 2020, there was an almost 15% increase.
Hershey additionally realized a 19% increase in sales this quarter compared to this time last year. In order to keep up with this growth, the company has prioritized keeping shelves stocked now while a portion of the seasonal production–which typically begins in the spring–has been pushed back.
This "tough decision" will put the company in a pinch as we approach Halloween. It may come as no surprise but this season is the busiest for the candy maker. Orange and black treats bring in about 10% of Hershey's annual sales, according to Reuters. Low supplies may additionally trickle down into the winter holiday season following shortly after.
Hershey Chief Financial Officer Steve Voskuil explained in the call that "it's definitely all hands on deck" to get production back on track and put as much Halloween candy as possible into consumers' hands and avoid a shortage.
Even with this minor setback, the chocolate manufacturer's CEO Michele Buck assured shoppers that Hershey's 2022 sales will be stronger than last year's thanks to a strong performance in the first half of the year combined with boosted prices and projections for continually high demand in the coming months give credibility to the company's confidence.