Easter Candy Pricing Trends 2024: Winning Strategies for Retailers and Brands Amid Cocoa Price Surge

Easter Candy Pricing Trends 2024: Winning Strategies for Retailers and Brands Amid Cocoa Price Surge

1st Apr, 2024

Shailendra Nagarajan

By Shailendra Nagarajan

Easter egg hunts just got more challenging for families this year as the price of chocolate and other candies has soared. The root of this price surge lies in a cocoa deficit, attributed to diseases affecting crops and the adverse effects of climate change on West African farms, which supplies over 70% of the world’s cocoa. This has resulted in a tripling of cocoa prices over the last year, causing a “cocoa crunch,” and severely impacted confectioners and chocolate makers.

Reuters recently reported that Iconic brands such as Hershey’s and Cadbury find themselves grappling with the need to adjust to escalating costs for raw materials. Given that Easter is one of the top three candy-purchasing occasions, these manufacturers are contemplating raising their prices to sustain their profit margins.

Despite the challenges posed by the cocoa shortfall and persistent inflation, the National Confectioners Association anticipates that Easter candy sales in the U.S. will match or even exceed last year’s figures, which amounted to approximately $5.4 billion. This expectation is predicated more on price increases than on a rise in sales volume.

At DataWeave, our ongoing analysis of pricing trends across various consumer categories among retailers has provided insight into the evolving landscape of chocolate and candy prices in 2023 and 2024.

Our Analysis of Inflation in Candy and Chocolate Prices

Our study encompassed a broad array of 3,300 products from leading U.S. retailers, Amazon, Target, Kroger, and Giant Eagle. As illustrated in the following chart, the trajectory of prices over the past 15 months was compared against the average prices in January 2023. Our tracking focused on two key price points: the selling price, which represents the final cost to consumers after applying any discounts or promotions, and the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), as determined by the brands themselves.

The findings from our analysis indicate that the average selling price, primarily influenced by retailer decisions, has experienced a steady increase throughout 2023, reaching a peak at 16.2% above January 2023’s figures by December. As of March 2024, coinciding with the Easter season, the selling prices are approximately 10% higher than they were at the beginning of the previous year.

Simultaneously, the MSRP has seen a consistent uptick, driven by the climbing costs of cocoa. Brands have adjusted their suggested prices accordingly, with the current MSRP standing about 7% above its January 2023 level, after having peaked at a 7.6% increase by December 2023. This reflects the direct impact of rising cocoa costs on product pricing strategies.

Chocolate Candies Are Hit The Hardest

Across all candies, chocolate-based products have witnessed significantly sharper price increases than their non-chocolate counterparts. In the past 14 months, the selling prices of chocolate items have surged by 14.9%, a stark contrast to the modest 4% rise observed in non-chocolate candies.

This price escalation was particularly pronounced during the Christmas shopping period, a response to heightened demand, before experiencing a temporary decline in February.

The diminishing availability of cocoa, coupled with rising costs for packaging and transportation, has compelled brands and retailers alike to transfer these added expenses onto the consumer. This dynamic underpins the distinct pricing trends observed across the candy spectrum, with chocolate items bearing the brunt of these cost pressures.

Discounts Offered By Retailers and Brands to Entice Easter Shoppers

In our analysis, we delved deeper to identify the retailers and brands offering the most compelling prices for Easter-centric confections, including Chocolate Eggs, Chocolate Bunnies, and Easter-themed gift packs.

Kroger emerged as the frontrunner among the retailers we monitored, offering an impressive 19% discount on Easter candies. Giant Eagle followed with a solid 14% average markdown. Meanwhile, Amazon and Target provided more modest promotional discounts at 12% and 10%, respectively.

Kroger is making significant efforts to ensure consumers have access to attractively priced Easter treats. The retailer planned to keep its doors open throughout the Easter weekend, featuring baskets brimming with discounted items such as Russell Stover chocolate bunnies, Brach’s jelly beans, Reese’s eggs, and assorted bags of popular candies from Snickers, Twix, and Starburst, among others. Additionally, Kroger is enhancing its value proposition through gift card offers and exclusive Easter deals for its loyalty program members.

On the brand front, Starburst by Mars Wrigley leads with the steepest discount of 25%. Cadbury, under Mondelez, is not far behind, offering 21% off its mini eggs and other Easter treats, marking an increase from last year’s 17% discount. Ferrero Rocher is making a strong pricing move with an average 20% markdown on its Easter selections, including the chocolate bunny and squirrel figures.

The beloved Peeps marshmallow candies by Just Born are being offered at an 18% discount this year, slightly less than the 23% discount seen in 2023, likely reflecting the impact of rising sugar costs, given their sugar and corn composition.

Other notable brands, including M&M’s and the premium Swiss chocolatier Lindt, have elevated their average Easter discounts to 17% this year, up from the previous year’s discounts of 12%, and 10% respectively, showcasing a competitive pricing strategy to delight consumers this Easter season.

Coping With Inflation This Easter Season

Retailers and brands aiming to remain profitable and competitive in the current challenging environment can adopt a few strategic approaches:

  • Creative Product Bundling: Design innovative combo packs that mix chocolate and non-chocolate items. Such bundles can cater to diverse consumer preferences and budget ranges while preserving profit margins.
  • Encouragement of Bulk Purchases: Offer enticing discounts on larger quantities to promote bulk buying. This strategy can help amplify sales volumes, compensating for increased costs per item and fostering economies of scale.
  • Strategic Competitive Pricing: Keeping a vigilant eye on competitors’ pricing strategies is vital. Aim to capture market share through well-thought-out discount strategies that balance competitiveness with margin preservation. Leveraging advanced pricing intelligence, such as that offered by DataWeave, can provide invaluable insights for making informed pricing decisions.
  • Product Size Adjustments: Consider revising the size or weight of products as a cost management measure, a strategy known as “shrinkflation.” It’s crucial to approach this transparently, ensuring clear communication on packaging to uphold consumer trust.

Adopting these strategies—focusing on bundle offerings, incentivizing bulk purchases, optimizing pricing strategies based on competitive intelligence, and thoughtfully adjusting product sizes—will be pivotal for confectioners to navigate the challenges posed by the cocoa price surge.

For more information, reach out to us to speak to a DataWeave expert today!

- Shailendra Nagarajan
Director, Global Marketing at DataWeave, 1st Apr, 2024

Brands Strategy Canada Discounts Historical pricing analytics Inflation North America Online sales pricing analytics Pricing insights Retail

Book a Demo