ST. LOUIS — Couples, listen up! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and people are looking for ways to treat their special someone.
This year, expect to spend a lot more while shopping for your loved ones. Inflation and supply chain issues are hitting Valentine’s Day products across the board, and that includes one of America's favorite indulgences — chocolate.
Owned by the same family, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company and Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier sell their products nationwide, and they’ve had to raise prices this year.
Dan Abel Jr., son of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company’s founder, says the St. Louis-based business, which is over 40 years old, gets about a third of its revenue from Valentine’s Day alone.
"We spend part of December and all of January making truffles and heart boxes, marshmallow hearts, caramel hearts," said Abel.
Recently, Abel says, every cost from freight to candy packaging has risen. So this year, the company had to raise prices almost across the board, something it doesn't do often and tried to avoid.
"Usually we say ‘OK, we’re gonna raise chocolate bars this year, and then we’re gonna raise truffles next year.' This is the year where it’s like, ‘OK, we’re gonna have to raise almost everything, because every single cost that we have has gone up,’" Abel lamented.
It's not just local chocolate factories that have had to raise prices. Larger companies like Hershey are raising their prices too. So that will mean paying more for Hershey's Kisses, Reese’s, KitKats and more classic favorites.
Part of the problem is the cost of ingredients. For example, prices for sugar rose by 4.6% from 2000 to 2021, while prices for milk rose by 4.2% and peanut butter by 3.8% over the same period, according to the Bureau of Labor. Abel says it’s also been hard to get ingredients when they’re needed.
"One little hiccup in the supply chain could really put a damper on things," Abel said. "If we lost out on Valentine's Day, that means come June, July and August, we’re gonna be really in a financial position where we’re gonna be tight for cash."
Abel says chocolate-covered strawberries are his company’s Valentine’s staples. He described strawberries as "just-in-time inventory," meaning the fruit arrives in a truck from California typically the night before or morning they are dipped in chocolate and ready to be sold.
"It has been successful for 40 years, but this is year 41, and this is the one that scares the heck out of me because of supply chain issues," Abel said.
But Lauren Boland, communications director for the National Confectioners Association, says consumers should not worry about a chocolate shortage this Valentine's Day.
"Manufacturers are working with our retail partners to ensure that products that consumers are looking for to celebrate Valentine’s Day with are on store shelves," said Boland
Confectionary sales for Valentine's Day 2022 are expected to top $3.4 billion.