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Why Halloween Candy Could Be More Expensive This Year

Strained sugar supplies have been sent costs soaring for candy companies.

It wouldn't really be Halloween without buckets upon buckets of assorted candy. But Americans may have to shell out more cash for their favorite confections this Halloween, as manufacturers struggle with a shortage of a key ingredient: sugar.

Strained sugar supplies are causing soaring costs for candy companies and even impacting production in some instances, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. Candy producers are blaming the sugar shortage on an agriculture policy that requires at least 85% of sugar purchases in the United States to come from domestic processors. They say that sugar supplies become strained and prices go up when demand is high, though sugar farmers and processors deny that the agricultural policy caused the current rise in sugar prices and shortages.

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Raw sugar cane prices increased to 42.56 cents per pound in May—the highest level since January 2011—while Midwestern refined beet sugar prices increased to 62 cents a pound, according to the USDA. The USDA expects the sugar supply to drop by 2.3% during the next crop year, WSJ reported. 

Kirk Vashaw, president of Ohio-based Spangler Candy, told the publication that the company has been struggling to keep up with production in the past year after a decrease in the amount of available sugar from suppliers. He said that they had to refuse candy orders they couldn't fulfill and ended up producing about 50 million fewer candy canes than usual last year.  

Like Spangler, Atkinson Candy Company in Texas has also been having trouble sourcing enough sugar to fulfill orders. Company President Eric Atkinson told The Wall Street Journal that they nearly ran out of supplies before recently finding a supplier that helped them get sugar from Colombia.

In good news for shoppers, the sugar supply issues aren't expected to cause candy shortages around Halloween. 

"Concerns for a Halloween candy shortage is not an issue," said Brad Rubin, Wells Fargo's food and agribusiness industry advisory group sector analyst. "American candy producers have high stocks and are in full production. While candy prices have experienced upward pressure from the cost of sugar, Americans should have plenty for the fall holiday."

However, Americans may find that candy prices are a little higher than normal around Halloween.

"Americans can expect to potentially pay a little more this year, but price increases should not be extreme," Rubin said. "Major candy manufacturers have large operations leveraging economies of scale to efficiently produce products to ease the burden for American consumers."

Candy isn't the only major grocery store product that may be costing Americans more this year. In April, Rubin predicted that prices of fresh produce like strawberries, tomatoes, and lettuce would see an uptick. This is all due to a spate of unpredictable weather and flooding this past winter that negatively impacted agricultural production in California, which is a major producer of those crops.

Rubin said that consumers would likely see most of the fresh produce price increases in late spring and summer months, but predicted they would stabilize afterward.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe
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