BILLINGS — This Halloween, children in Billings were ready for their treats, but there were more tricks in store for those purchasing candy, as a global cocoa shortage forced the price of chocolate to surge.
Despite those rising costs, ghouls and goblins took over downtown Billings on Tuesday for a special trick-or-treat event.
“We are at our second Downtown Trick or Treat. We came last year, and this year he can actually almost say ‘Trick or Treat’. So it’s fabulous,” said Michelle Cormier, a Billings resident trick or treating with her grandson Kai, on Tuesday. "We love it."
It's spooky season—but it’s not just the costumes that are scary this Halloween.
“A one-pound bag of candy’s pretty expensive nowadays,” said Carl Redman, a father of three trick or treating, on Tuesday. "That’s why my house doesn’t have candy."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, candy prices are up 7.5% from 2022. Chocolate costs have gone up even more.
A global cocoa shortage impacting the price of chocolate stems from weather. Record heat and dryness brought on by El Niño disrupted cocoa production, causing prices to surge to the highest they’ve been in 44 years.
“We were lucky because we have our price locked in. So for us, we are good to go for another year," said Jaci Brockel, co-owner of Brockel's Chocolates, on Tuesday. "We were very lucky and fortunate."
But for other chocolatiers, the shortage could mean trouble.
"They’re kind of scrambling around right now trying to come up with other ideas," Brockel said. "In case if they do have a shortage on their end."
All treats and no tricks at Brockel's and downtown, thanks to events like the annual Downtown Trick or Treat, put on by the Downtown Business Alliance. Families were able to celebrate the holiday without hurting their pocketbooks.
“We just love being downtown and we love being part of the community," Brockel said. "We love all of our customers supporting us this Halloween season."
A sweet gift, helping families avoid a ghostly scene.
"It means I have a lot less candy at home, which is good. But it sure makes what they’re doing downtown fabulous," Cormier said. "To get the kids to still get some great candy and have some fun. It really helps out a lot when someone else carries some of the burden of some of those high prices."
To learn more about Brockel's Chocolates, click here.
To learn more about Halloween candy inflation, click here.