The Great Sugar Shortage of 2023

A poor growing season has accelerated ‘sugarflation.’

July 25, 2023

"Your sweet tooth may have to pay a pretty penny to be satisfied," Lisa Thompson, a savings expert for the Shopmium cashback app, told Axios.

The U.S. government requires that 85% of U.S. sugar purchases come from domestic processors. That can result in sugar prices two or three times higher than manufacturers in other countries pay. The mandate-fueled sugar squeeze is tighter than ever this year, with crop yields down due to bad weather.

According to Axios, “sugarflation” is already visible, with prices for candy and chewing gum up 13.2% year over year.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Eric Atkinson, the president of Atkinson Candy in Texas, a maker of hard candies, caramels and peanut brittle. He told the Journal that 11 suppliers were unable to supply sugar, and he was at the point of purchasing it at Costco before he found a supplier.

According to the Journal, “Major sweets and snack makers Hershey and Mondelez, which produce brands including Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Sour Patch Kids, are also dealing with high sugar prices, contributing to rising costs, executives said during company earnings calls in April.”

So is there a looming candy shortage heading into the fall? “Our production is busy and our warehouses are full. There is not going to be a shortage for Halloween,” Todd Scott, Hershey’s senior manager of communications, told Axios. “Most likely what consumers will sense this year is higher-priced Halloween candy,” he added.