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Trick or Treat: A Halloween Candy & Sugar Shortage?

October 2, 2023 Kevin Baxter

Trick or Treat Empty Buckets

Since the pandemic, consumers have become used to the prospect of retail shortages, whether they be toilet paper, turkeys or, more recently, grapes. But earlier this year, many were on the lookout for another potential supply chain challenge for shoppers - of Halloween candy - thanks to a sugar shortage. So as October begins, is this prospect a trick or a treat?

Is There a Sugar Shortage in 2023?

According to a number of sources, there is some level of sugar shortage in 2023. The USDA projects a domestic supply decline of more than 2% by the next crop cycle. As with any shortage, there are also multiple reasons why, including:

  • Weather - A combination of the El Nino weather pattern and potentially climate change-related factors have held down production somewhat - an early projection had that reduction as much as 10-15%.
  • U.S. Import Laws - There is some disagreement on this one, but candy producers blame a U.S. agricultural policy that requires 85% of sugar to come from domestic producers. U.S. sugar producers say, though, that the policy has nothing to do with any shortages.
  • Inflation - With prices of many essential items elevated for all, sugar producers are also dealing with higher costs for fertilizer, fuel (at times) and other farming & processing supplies.
  • Demand - It isn't just a supply issue in this case, as worldwide sugar production has stayed relatively steady over the past several years. But since 2013-14, consumption has gone up, from 164.5 million tons to 192.2 (outpacing supply by nearly 300,000).

All these factors combined have sugar prices up 34% over the same time last year (still near the record price recorded in May) and have led to concern about the impact that the issue could have on costumed trick or treaters looking for Halloween candy on October 31.

Is There a Halloween Candy Shortage in 2023?

The short answer is, despite the sugar supply and demand-related pressure, there appears to be no major shortage of Halloween candy in 2023. While several candy makers have expressed concerns about production keeping up with demand, others - like Hershey - have shown confidence in full production. This leads experts to indicate a Halloween candy shortage is unlikely to be an issue.

Recall that just last year, there were questions about candy shortages as well, with concerns generally unfounded. The "founded" concerns? Price. Last year, candy prices were up roughly 13% from the year prior, and this year, they could be up nearly another 10%. Still, the higher prices have yet to tamp down on enthusiasm for the holiday. The National Retail Federation expects participation to be at an all-time high - with spending on candy alone projected at $3.6 billion.

Since there's no shortage of candy, perhaps you need to ship it - whether temp-controlled or otherwise. Or maybe you ship other products. Either way, InTek can help. Just fill in our brief form and we'll be happy to follow up to discuss your freight and logistics needs. For more information about InTek, or logistics and supply chain issues in general, check out our Freight Guides.

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