HERSHEY, Pa. — Editor's Note: The above video is from Jan. 31, 2022.
The latest victim of ever-increasing inflation? Central Pennsylvania's favorite chocolate company.
The Hershey Company announced on Thursday it will implement "list price increases across all segments," meaning the cost of products like those beloved Reese's, KitKats and Hershey's Kisses will all tick up just in time for Valentine's Day.
In the company's Fourth Quarter 2021 Earnings conference call, Chairman and CEO Michelle Buck stated that, although 2021 "delivered a record year of production and double digit sales and earnings growth," the company needs to offset recent inflation and production disruptions.
Buck noted that widespread cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 resulted in higher absenteeism and "pressured production" throughout Hershey facilities and Hershey suppliers.
"Despite heroic efforts and a record year of production, we were unable to keep pace with accelerating consumer demand," said Buck.
In Thursday's conference call, Buck predicted fulfilling recovery efforts will likely last until the second half of the year.
The overwhelming amount of COVID cases throughout the company occurred as the United States continues to grapple with the largest inflation increase in 40 years.
Steve Voskuil, Hershey's chief financial officer, explained raising the prices on Hershey products will help the company "offset the majority" of its inflation. He noted prices of sugar, dairy, packaging materials and specialty ingredients are all swiftly rising.
In addition to raising prices, Voskuil said the company is hiring more workers to help relieve its current staff.
However, noting the Hershey company has successfully navigated previous volatile economic environments in the past, he expressed optimism for this year: "We are pleased with where we ended the year and the momentum we have entering 2022."
Hershey's announcement comes as several other companies have increased prices in recent months. Starbucks just announced a hike on its products on Wednesday, and production giants like General Mills and Procter & Gamble have also steadily introduced price increases in 2021 and 2022.