Nothing says Easter Sunday in America like a basket of chocolates from the Easter Bunny. While this is a longstanding tradition in the U.S., the sweet treats you buy for your children are most likely made elsewhere.
In the past two decades, many American companies that we know and love have outsourced production to other countries. Brach’s Confections, known for their famous caramels, moved manufacturing to Mexico in 2001. Ferrara Pan Candy, the maker of Lemonheads and Red Hots, followed suit shortly after. One company that shocked the confection industry was Hershey’s, when they announced the building of a 1,500- employee factory in Monterrey, Mexico, back in 2008.
So, what’s prompting these companies to move their factories to Mexico and other countries? The answer is simple: sugar.
In the early 2000’s, the U.S. government put new regulations on sugar within the country. This resulted in higher production costs for American-made candies. While many companies moved their production to Mexico, many decided to simply stay in the U.S. and import sugar from Mexico, avoiding high American sugar prices. And that worked for a while–until 2014, when the U.S. government came to a controversial trade agreement with Mexico.
Under the agreement, Mexico’s exports to the U.S. are limited to a certain amount, and the sugar that Mexican companies do sell to the U.S. has a higher minimum price than before the agreement.
The U.S. government’s intentions for the agreement were good. It was actually a victory for sugar farmers because they were finally able to charge reasonably higher prices for their product without Mexican competition. But while sugar farmers celebrated, processed food and confectionery workers mourned. They could no longer afford to make their products in America.
Later on, in 2017, the Trump administration increased import prices and minimum fees even higher than the previous agreement. In response, the Coalition for Sugar Reform–which represents Coca-Cola, Nestle and other large companies–put out a statement. “U.S. sugar policy should empower America’s food and beverage companies to create more jobs, not put hundreds of thousands of good-paying U.S. jobs at risk just to benefit one small interest group.”
Along with avoiding high sugar prices, companies outsource production to be able to pay lower wages and avoid U.S. health, safety and environmental regulations. While the list of outsourced candy brands is extensive, there are still American-made sweets available for purchase this Easter.
Tootsie Roll Industries is a manufacturer of popular brands like DOTS, Sugar Daddy, Charleston Chew, Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Rolls, and more. Their products are all American-made, with facilities in Chicago, Illinois and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Jelly Belly jelly beans are produced in Fairfield, California.
Elmer Chocolate, an Easter favorite, makes their chocolate eggs in Louisiana.