A combination of supply chain issues and labor shortages have led to a massive shortage of candy canes this Christmas season. Similar factors have also led to a shortage of Christmas trees, both real and artificial.
Andrew Schuman, a candy cane vendor, told Reuters that he had to turn away upwards of 10% of his customers this year due to supply shortages.
“We have had to turn away business this year. I wouldn’t say that it is 30% of the overall business, but we certain probably had to turn away 10% of the business,” said Schuman, who serves as chief executive officer of Hammond’s, which is based in Denver, Colorado.
Schuman added that what stock the company has accrued has been “flying off the shelves.”
Candy vendors, like most retailers, have been hammered by supply chain issues since the pandemic began.
Sugar prices have risen dramatically due largely in part to skyrocketing freight prices.
The U.S. relies imports roughly 25% of its sugar supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Labor shortages have also contributed to the price hikes.
Both sugar processing operations and retailers are struggling to find staff, leading to increased prices.
There has also been a countrywide shortage of truck drivers, leading to price increases across dozens of industries.
This year, Hammond’s labor costs have increased by 30%.
“It’s been really hard hiring workers this year. In fact, this has probably been, in the 15 years that I’ve been involved with Hammond’s, this has been the hardest it’s been to hire workers,” Schuman told Reuters.
He added that longtime company employees have been working overtime in the days leading up to Christmas.
Supply chain issues and freight have also affected the company’s ability to accrue supplies used for tins and displays.
Hammond’s is the largest wholesale supplier of U.S. handmade candy canes, though the price hikes have affected the entire industry.