- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2022

Consumers stocking up on Halloween candy for trick-or-treaters might want to consider chocolate if they don’t want to take a bigger chunk out of their wallets this year.

Candy prices rose an average of 21% in September from a year ago, with non-chocolate treats taking the biggest hit, according to the retail data collection firm Datasembly.

The biggest increases were a 42% spike in the price of Skittles and a 35% jump for Starburst in September from a year earlier, the company’s October Grocery Price Index reported.

At increases of 6% and 7%, respectively, the prices of Nestle Crunch and Butterfinger candy bars (made with cocoa but technically not chocolate) changed the least. 

The price of candy overall rose 7.6% in the third quarter, the highest of any food category.

Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said increases in the cost of raw sugar, supply chain issues and rising energy costs have driven the spike. 

“With Halloween around the corner, we’ve identified a significant change in the candy category as it continues to rise in price on a national average,” Mr. Reich said in a statement.

Datasembly’s analysis of more than 2 billion product data points also found that bags of assorted candies increased in price by 8% from last year.

The report confirms what some leading candy companies have projected as they try to meet a pandemic-era spike in demand for sweets.

In their half-year reports over the summer, Pennsylvania-based Hershey Co. and Switzerland-based Nestle said pandemic-driven global supply chain disruptions and Russia’s war on Ukraine have made cocoa and other ingredients scarcer and more expensive.

The maker of Nestle Crunch announced a 6.5% price increase to offset lower profit margins amid “significant and unprecedented cost inflation.” Nestle now expects an 8% increase in sales this year, higher than its previous 5% estimate.

Inflation is driving a spike in Halloween spending across the board as Americans pay more for less this year.

The National Retail Federation projects Americans will spend a record $10.6 billion on Halloween, topping the previous record high of $10.1 billion last year.

The industry group predicts consumers will spend an average of $100 on Halloween candy, decor, cards and costumes this year.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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