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Trick or treat? What we never knew about the Halloween candy supply chain IBM Supply Chain and Blockchain Blog

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trick or treatingThe National Confectioners Association survey from last month shows 82% of Americans are NOT afraid to celebrate Halloween this year which is sweet news for retailers. Their annual survey reveals consumers will spend USD 324 million on Halloween candy (up a monstrous 48% from last year). So what’s the trick? Will the shelves be bare before the goblins come out?

The threat of empty shelves has haunted customers and retailers alike creating a tricky situation for businesses. Companies like Walmart and Lowes prepared for Halloween by ordering more product and stocking their shelves early. This year all ages — not just kids — are celebrating Halloween and the fright of candy and costume shortages are driving consumers to buy early.

Enough of the scary news. Focusing on the biggest treat for consumers this year is seeing how the candy industry is becoming more transparent with its supply chain, more responsible with its sustainability practices and more committed to making the world a safer and better place.

Learn how your supply chain can be ready for the biggest days of the year

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups does “good” across the globe

Reese’s ranks as America’s all-time favorite Halloween treat by a landslide, it has been #1 for a few years. Filled with peanuts and surrounded by chocolate, how and what makes this candy taste so good? We think it’s the ethically sourced ingredients.

Thanks to the popularity of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (and other yummy peanut products), Hershey’s is one of the largest buyers of peanuts from the United States, purchasing from peanut farms across the south. With global offices and manufacturing plants all over the world, Hershey’s is taking a leadership role in making long-term commitments to ethical business practices within their supply chain. They successfully initiated a policy across their entire supply chain from Asia to Canada to use only cage free eggs by the end of 2020.

Being responsible also means offering transparency into their business practices by sharing the data and insights collected on their agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and partnerships. Check out this map to see the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups supply chain — where the ingredients are farmed, from who, and how far it is transported — before it gets dropped into your Halloween bag.

Can you trust your Halloween Candy? With IBM Food Trust the answer is yes! Because IBM technology offers insights to the direct source of the ingredients, visibility into time, shipping, and tracking at all touchpoints:

  • An ecosystem of producers, suppliers, manufacturers to create a safer and more sustainable food ecosystem
  • Clearly indicate where ingredients are sourced
  • Build trust in the brand
  • Optimize safety in transportation of food
  • Minimize waste

M&M’s are working to protect the world’s chocolate supply

M&M’s, the long-time classic Halloween candy (voted #3 in the survey) owned by Mars, is one of the largest users of cocoa sourcing anywhere from 350,000 to 400,000 metric tons of cocoa every year. After three years of working towards full transparency with their supply chain, as of 2021, Mars is 95% transparent with their supplier lists for cocoa.

In addition to supply chain transparency, Mars is getting closer to their goal of sourcing 100% Responsible Cocoa. As part of an industry-wide initiative and collaborating with African governments, Mars Wrigley plans to protect the worlds chocolate supply with programs to employ women, protect children from forced labor, rebuild and preserve forests while increasing farmers’ wages by 2025.

Swiss agrifood and Mars are collaborating to protect the Cocoa supply, with their science teams building an on-site test that identifies swollen root disease in cocoa trees in just 60 minutes. Currently a whopping 78 million acres (780,000 hectares) of cocoa trees are infected with the disease, but their new advanced testing makes it easier to detect the disease and prevent it from spreading. IMB Blockchain delivers an open source platform for sharing data where competitors can work together to share data, tools, information and resources.

Starburst weathers the storms

Starbursts, another popular candy made by Mars Wrigley, are the fourth most popular Halloween candy according to the Candy Store survey.

Their plant in Texas produces 100% of all the Starburst candy in North America, but their supply chain for key ingredients can be significantly impacted by hurricane season. Starburst sources its sugar from the Caribbean Islands, and hurricane season often disrupts the transport of goods, causing delays that reverberate throughout the supply chain. Real time visibility into where the product is at all times is possible.

Companies can make predictions based on upcoming events before it impacts the supply chain, like severe storms. Using data from the weather company, you can see unstructured data like hurricanes coming and predict the impact on your supply chain, shifting logistics in advance to avoid delays or losses.

You can feel wicked good about eating candy, after all, the world’s largest confectioners are leading the food industry in sustainability to ensure planet earth lasts longer than candy corn — which was voted the worst Halloween candy for the past two years.

Retailers can enjoy this treat: Halloween sales are exploding! It is exciting to see Halloween sales at USD 324 million in the four weeks ending on 4 October 2021, up 48% from last year. The scare of empty shelves is motivating customers to buy more and purchase earlier.

Let Halloween be your warning and don’t get left in the dark, stock your shelves earlier for the upcoming Holiday season.

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