The chocolate industry is being affected by growing income inequality, as consumers are either paying more for better options or else looking for bigger discounts on products, says the Hershey Company.
The disparity has reportedly changed America’s buying habits, making it more difficult for the company to ensure that all households can have the Hershey products they want. The disappearance of the country’s middle class is also influencing retailers like Walmart to give Hershey less shelf space, according to Reuters.
Some companies, like Mondelez, have responded by trying to increase the size and pricing of its products, as well as introducing more products to convenience stores and dollar store chains, while upper class customers have likely jumped ship for more refined and exclusive brands.
During a recent investor call, John P. Bilbrey, a chief executive at Hershey, also confirmed that “consumer bifurcation has been an important driver” in recent retail trends, referring to the growing income gap.