WASHINGTON — Halloween is happening, according to the National Confectioners Association, which said sales of seasonal chocolate and candy increased 13% year-over-year in the four weeks ended Sept. 6.
The growth is driven by Halloween chocolate, which was up more than 25% over the prior year. In the grocery channel alone, Halloween chocolate and candy sales were up 17% in the four-week period.
The Halloween season is an important one for the confectionery industry, accounting for approximately $4.6 billion in sales each year during the eight weeks leading up to Oct. 31, according to the NCA. While chocolate and candy have been resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers have been bracing for softer demand on the possibility trick-or-treating may decline due to social distancing.
“Treats like chocolate and candy have kept us connected this year, even when we couldn’t be together,” said John Downs, president and chief executive officer of the NCA. “When asked, parents overwhelmingly said their favorite way to enjoy Halloween treats is with their families, demonstrating how candy can make family time even sweeter and bring families closer together.
“Halloween may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate in a new and creative way. I can’t wait to see the creative ways our member companies and candy lovers across the country make the Halloween season a success.”
Mars, Inc., McLean, Va., has prepared for a variety of outcomes for Oct. 31, said Timothy LeBel, president of sales for Mars Wrigley.
“We typically begin the planning process for Halloween about two years out, and this year, we obviously had to pivot quickly so our communities can keep their traditions while also planning to celebrate as safely as possible,” Mr. LeBel said. “We’ve worked across different functions to plan for a few different scenarios. In 2020, we’ll be focusing on solutions like working with community leaders and health experts to ensure a safe Halloween season, creating a fun and innovative virtual trick-or-treat experience, and offering some fan-favorite seasonal innovations like the return of Zombie Skittles and M&M’s Ghoul Mix.”
The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa., has introduced several treats for Halloween: Reese’s Franken-Cups milk chocolate and green crème cups filled with peanut butter, Kit Kat Witch’s Brew marshmallow flavored wafers dipped in green crème, Hershey’s Vampire Kisses milk chocolate drops filled with strawberry-flavored crème, and Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Crème Fangs mini cookies and cream bars that feature a pair of fangs on each pip.
“Nearly 50% of Halloween candy spend is on ‘treat for me’ and candy bowl occasions, which start early in the season,” Michele G. Buck, chairman, president and CEO of the Hershey Co., said in late July during an earnings call. “Trick-or-treating represents the other 50% of the season with sales concentrated in the last two weeks of October.
“While research indicates trick-or-treating participation will likely be below prior-year levels due to COVID-19 concerns, the expectation of this holiday tradition has been consistently improving over the past several weeks. We expect to outperform the category, given our iconic brands, strong innovation and merchandising and great execution.”