US facing Halloween candy shortage

Candy consumers may have to go without this Halloween, Hershey CEO Michele Buck warned this week. Supply-chain issues and rising costs mean the company has had to prioritize its regular products over seasonal treats. 

“We will not be able to fully meet consumer demand” for the holiday, Buck said on Thursday after the company released its second quarter results. According to a CNN report, the company uses the same production lines for its regular products and its Halloween specials, and has had to prioritize its year-round offerings. 

Halloween accounts for around a tenth of Hershey’s annual sales.

Demand for candy surged during the coronavirus pandemic, while raw materials have gotten scarcer and more expensive, Buck explained. The candy CEO said that these issues are related to the conflict in Ukraine, without elaborating further. 

However, shortages of food were being reported in the US for several months before hostilities broke out in Ukraine. With photographs of empty shelves proliferating on social media in late 2021, the White House denied that its policies – namely onerous coronavirus regulations that opponents said impeded the transit of goods – were to blame. Ron Klain, President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, called the supply-chain crisis “an overhyped narrative” in December. 

Alcohol, meat, potatoes, toilet paper, dairy products, and pet food were among the goods missing from shelves at the beginning of this year. Prices have climbed too since Biden took office, with inflation rising from 1.4% in December 2020 to 7% in December 2021. While his administration described inflation as “transitory” throughout 2021, the rate has continued to rise, reaching a four-decade high of 9.1% in June. 

Following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February, Biden switched to blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for rising costs in the US, repeatedly deploying the phrase “Putin’s price hike.”

While Americans might not be able to find all of the treats they want this year, those who can will also end up paying more for the privilege. Hershey is owned by Swiss food giant Nestle, which announced on Thursday that “unprecedented” ingredient costs have forced it to increase its prices. 

Here, Russia’s military operation and the West’s response takes center stage. Buck said that restricted supplies and rising costs of Russian gas in Germany are affecting Hershey’s ability to source equipment and materials. Moscow has accused Germany and other European nations of sabotaging their own economies by sanctioning Russian energy imports, while EU states have agreed to voluntarily limit their gas consumption in preparation for a potential shutoff by Russia.

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