Inflation has made just about everything more expensive and Halloween is no exception. The cost of filling trick-or-treat bags has risen sharply, faster than overall grocery prices.
Data compiled by Datasembly show that nationwide, candy and gum prices are higher in every major market over the last 12 months, with prices escalating sharply in early May. But the increase is much higher in some markets than others.
The biggest year-over-year increases are in metro areas in the Northeast. Here’s the breakdown:
|1. Albany, N.Y.||14.2%|
|4. New York City||13.4%|
|6. Syracuse, N.Y.||12.6%|
|8. Harford/New Haven, Conn.||12.1%|
|9. San Antonio||11.5%|
|10. St. Louis||11.3%|
Ingredient costs are rising
The price of sugar is one big reason for the high cost of candy and gum this year. The Wall Street Journal reports sugar supplies are tight and cites candy producers who blame U.S. policies that require 85% of sugar used in food to come from domestic producers.
Domestic sugar producers counter that they need protection from foreign producers who are heavily subsidized by their governments. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show sugar prices began to rise sharply in 2021 and haven’t slowed.
But supply chain issues could also be contributing to the sharp rise in candy and gum prices in the Northeast since prices increases in other parts of the country are more modest. Datasembly data show candy and gum prices have risen just 8.1% in the Richmond, Va., metro and 8.7% in the Portland, Ore., metro.
Chris Tang, a professor at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, says sugar isn’t the only ingredient in candy. There are also nuts and chocolate, both of which are more expensive. Then there’s the packaging.
"Due to safety concerns a lot of Halloween candies have more wrapping than candies sold individually,” Tang told ConsumerAffairs. “So there are materials, such as paper wrappers and plastic bags.”
Special challenges in the Northeast
But Tang says supply chain issues are also contributing to the sharp rise in candy and gum prices in the Northeast since price increases in other parts of the country are more modest. Datasembly data show candy and gum prices have risen just 8.1% in the Richmond, Va., metro and 8.7% in the Portland, Ore., metro.
Tang says supplying large Northeast markets is more expensive than supplying big box retailers in the Midwest, where an entire shipment can be loaded on one truck.
“In the Northeast metros, a lot of the stores are smaller,” Tang said. “To make deliveries they use smaller trucks, sometimes vans. They often have to make more trips, which increases costs."
Tang said candy costs may also be lower in Midwestern markets because much of America’s candy manufacturing is centered in the Midwest.