Subscribe for insightful business news.
You might want to give candy the “toilet paper in March 2020” treatment.
It’s every candy lover’s worst nightmare: A sugar shortage is hitting the candy supply chain—putting the industry’s most important Halloween season at risk, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
Candy makers have faced supply shortages and soaring prices over at least the past year, thanks in part to a twenty-year decline in sugarcane and sugar beet plantations in the United States, according to the USDA. Meanwhile, extreme weather is expected to contribute to a more than 2% decline in domestic sugar production during the next crop season, according to the USDA. That sent raw U.S. sugar cane prices up nearly 43 cents a pound in May, the highest since January 2011. Meanwhile, prices for refined sugar beets, which account for just over half of U.S. sugar production, are still far from last year’s all-time highs — with most of the 2023-2024 harvest already sold out in advanced contracts, according to major agricultural lender Rabobank.
Not surprisingly, the sugar inflation crushed production. Already anticipating a sugar slump, the company said Spangler, makers of Dum Dums and Sweethearts and Necco Wafers. Wall Street Journal. Who is guilty? Depends on which supply chain link you ask:
- The National Association of Confectioners, which represents companies that use sugar such as candy makers, points to U.S. agricultural policies that impose steep tariffs on any buyer who imports more than 15% of sugar—arguing that lower tariffs can help ease prices when domestic sugar is scarce.
- Tariffs are good, says the American Sugar Alliance of Growers and Processors, and blames foreign governments that artificially lower prices with massive subsidies for sour market dynamics.
free samples: Either way, candy makers can’t find sugar fast enough. Texas-based Atkinson Candy told the Wall Street Journal that they have to turn to Colombian imports after local suppliers run out. “We got to the point where we were running low,” Atkinson said. “We were going to Costco.”