Pumpkin-flavored food items may be considerably more expensive this year because of 'pumpkin spice tax'

Photo (c) Mizina - Getty Images

While the tax isn’t new, it’s skyrocketed this year

The rising cost of goods is no surprise to consumers this year, as inflation has hit nearly every industry and area of daily life. 

Now, consumers are likely to experience higher costs when it comes to pumpkin-flavored goods. The seasonal favorite is subject to what is known as the “pumpkin spice tax,” which means retailers raise prices on these items – whether that’s cookies, lattes, or even dog treats – because of demand. 

This year, MagnifyMoney released a study that showed the pumpkin spice tax has reached record-high levels across the country. For 2022, the pumpkin spice tax was averaged to be just over 14%, compared with under 9% in 2020. This translates to a price increase of more than 60% on average for the cost of pumpkin products over the last two years. 

Different retailers, products have different prices

The study reported that the pumpkin spice tax varies from retailer to retailer and from product to product. That means that the upcharge on your pumpkin spice latte will be different from the upcharge on your favorite pumpkin cookies. 

Ultimately, Trader Joe’s was found to have the highest price increases on its pumpkin goods, while Target was actually found to lower its prices on pumpkin items.

However, Whole Foods beat out all other retailers in terms of the overall highest pumpkin spice tax at nearly 28% -- Trader Joe’s came in at under 27%. Target was on the other end of the spectrum, with pumpkin items costing nearly 3.5% less. 

Of the five pumpkin items that had the biggest increase in price this year, four of those came from Trader Joe’s. Pumpkin-flavored pretzels topped the list, with a 161.1% increase, followed by pumpkin spice pancake and waffle mix from Whole Foods (129.8% increase), pumpkin spice hummus at Trader Joe’s (49.9% increase), pumpkin bisque soup from Trader Joe’s (46.3% increase), and pumpkin cheesecake croissants from Trader Joe’s (29.7% increase). 

Conversely, Target claimed all five spots on the list of items with a negative pumpkin spice tax. These include Pepperidge Farm Milano pumpkin spice cookies, My/Mochi pumpkin spice ice cream, Good & Gather organic pumpkin spice instant oatmeal, Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats pumpkin pie spice cereal, and a family-sized box of pumpkin spice Cheerios. 

Similarly, a pumpkin spice latte, which is a favorite among many consumers this time of year, is found to be around $1 more expensive than regular lattes at Starbucks. This year, a 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte will run consumers around $6.45. 

Finding deals on pumpkin spice

Experts encourage consumers to start budgeting to make sure their pumpkin habit doesn’t break the bank this fall. Pumpkin season doesn’t last forever, but narrowing down the list of items to just your favorites can help consumers save money and enjoy this time of year. 

Looking for discounts or sales is also important when buying pumpkin items. Don’t settle on the first store you see with your favorite pumpkin item.

Taking the time to do research, waiting for special sales, or using coupons when possible can help consumers get the most for their money during pumpkin spice season. 

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