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This Could Be Scary: A Halloween Candy Shortage

August 8, 2022


If geopolitics, inflation, and climate change aren’t enough to worry about, there are now warnings that there could be a shortage of Halloween Candy. The first company to sound the alarm was Hershey. Journalist Mehr Bedi reports, “Hershey Co said on [28 July] it would fall short of meeting demand for the all-important Halloween and Christmas holiday seasons this year, blaming a scarcity of raw ingredients and difficulties in securing suppliers.”[1] The following day journalist Steve Ellwanger (@steveellwanger) reported that Nestlé warned “supply chain constraints could impact availability [of chocolate] along with other candy come Halloween.”[2] For both candy companies and children looking forward to celebrating the holiday, this could be scary!


Last year consumers in the United States spent an estimated three billion U.S. dollars on trick-or-treat candy for the Halloween season.[3] And, according to John Downs, President and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, demand is increasing. He notes, “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.”[4] Tight supplies and high demand are an inflationary mix.


What’s Causing the Shortage?


The staff at Logility observes that holiday supply chains are stressed even during the best of times. They explain, “Planning for holidays places significant stress on supply chain planning processes and planning teams. The cost of over forecasting is severe. When you boil it down, a product’s shelf life is very short and if you don’t sell it, that inventory will be discounted shrinking already razor thin margins. Good for someone that wants to buy Halloween candy for 75% off the day after Halloween, but not so great for the candy manufacturer or retailer.”[5] As Ellwanger points out, Nestlé begins producing Halloween candy in the spring — and, I suspect, most other confectioners do the same. As a result, Ellwanger notes, confectioners face “a balancing act of keeping enough product on-shelf and bulking up for the scary holiday.”


The reasons that this year’s balancing act is particularly tricky are numerous. Ellwanger explains, “The pandemic, coupled with the Russia-Ukraine war, have contributed to shortages of confectionary supplies like cocoa, edible oils and other ingredients — a situation also cited by Mondelez International this week.” Journalist Wendy Leigh reports that “lingering pandemic-related labor shortages and supply-chain issues” are contributing factors to pending candy shortage along with the fact that “the Russian clampdown on natural gas supplies to Europe impacted Germany, which is a main source of ingredient supplies and equipment for The Hershey Company.”[6]


How to Mitigate the Effects of the Shortage


There are some things you can do to help mitigate the effects of a Halloween candy shortage. Below are some recommendations:


• Buy Early. Journalist Kimberley Laws writes, “With Halloween hiding just around the corner, you may want to grab your treats early. After all, you don’t want to disappoint your junk food-seeking juveniles. And you certainly don’t want them pulling any tricks.”[7] Journalist Miska Salemann adds, “Even though Halloween is still a few months away, it’s better to order early to ensure you’re not left hanging when the store shelves are left deserted. Plus, prices tend to go up as it gets closer to Halloween, so it’s smart to snatch up the early bird deals while they last.”[8] If you’re worried about whether the candy will spoil between now and Halloween, freelance writer Dawn Allcot (@allcot_m) says you shouldn’t worry. She explains, “Dark chocolate can store up to two years from the manufactured date. So, you may want to stock up on those Hershey’s Special Dark for your own consumption, but regular Hershey’s bars will also last easily until Halloween.”[9] Candy supplies should be good at the moment. Ellwanger reports that Nestlé had to make a choice between “keeping enough product on-shelf and bulking up for the scary holiday. It decided to prioritize on-shelf availability.”


• Buy in Bulk. Journalist Miska Salemann writes, “Prices tend to go up as it gets closer to Halloween, so it’s smart to snatch up the early bird deals while they last. Buying in bulk is also a great idea for those who have a sweet tooth, are hosting a Halloween party or two, or just like to celebrate all month along. Retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Costco, and Cost Plus World Market all are convenient, affordable places to secure sweets for the the sugariest and spookiest day of the year.”[8]


• Think Beyond Candy. Allcot suggests you might want to forget candy altogether or have non-candy items available for kids with allergies. She writes, “You can find toys, temporary tattoos and fun trinkets on sites like Oriental Trading at steep discounts any time of year.”


Concluding Thoughts


Before you break out in a cold sweat worrying about the lack of chocolate this coming Halloween, food reporter Joe Lamour (@lamour) suggests you can relax because warnings about candy shortages may be exaggerated. He cites a spokesperson from Hershey, who told him, “We will have even more seasonal product available to the consumer this year than last year.”[10] Like Nestlé, Hershey “made the decision in the spring … to focus on everyday products to improve on-shelf availability.” Because of that decision, the spokesperson noted, “As in years past, our everyday, snack size assortment can be applied to seasonal displays if consumers just can’t get enough of our Halloween and Holiday products. Moving forward, with higher inventory levels and more capacity, we believe we’ll be well positioned to deliver for the consumer whether they’re reaching for everyday or seasonal products.” Even if you’re not worried about supply, if you buy early, you can sample the wares between now and Halloween. After all, doesn’t chocolate relieve a person’s stress level?


[1] Mehr Bedi, “Hershey warns of Halloween candy shortage,” Reuters, 28 July 2022.
[2] Steve Ellwanger, “Is This Scary Or What? Nestle Warns Of Halloween Supply Issues,” Marketing Daily, 29 July 2022.
[3] D. Tighe, “Annual Halloween expenditure in the U.S. 2021, by item,” Statista, 8 November 2021.
[4] Megan Hageman, “There’s a Shortage of Candy Coming For Halloween, Experts Warn,” Eat This, Not This, 29 July 2022.
[5] Staff, “Halloween Candy – A Scary Supply Chain Planning Problem,” Logility Blog, 25 October 2018.
[6] Wendy Leigh, “The Real Reason There Might Be A Candy Shortage This Halloween,” TastingTable, 29 July 2022.
[7] Kimberley Laws, “Why We Might See A Candy Shortage Before Halloween 2022,” Mashed, 30 July 2022.
[8] Miska Salemann, “The best places to buy Halloween candy in bulk as shortages mount in 2022,” New York Post, 29 July 2022.
[9] Dawn Allcot, “Here’s How To Handle the Impending Candy Shortage This Halloween,” GO Banking Rates, 29 July 2022.
[10] Joe Lamour, “Hershey says reports of Halloween candy shortage have been greatly exaggerated,” Today, 29 July 2022.

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