The Pumpkin Spice Tax

Fall - aka pumpkin spice season - is in full swing and there’s no shortage of the products available in the season’s favorite flavor. Just be prepared to pay a lot more for it. It turns out, food manufacturers commonly bake an informal “pumpkin spice tax” into the cost of the items and this year, thanks to demand and inflation, it’s even higher than usual.

Research from MagnifyMoney, a personal finance site, finds that this year pumpkin spice products are an average of 14% more than traditional varieties of the same products. That’s the highest it’s been since they started doing their pumpkin spice studies back in 2007 and it’s 60% higher than the 8.8% pumpkin spice tax in October 2020. Upcharging customers for seasonal or limited-time products is nothing new for retailers and they continue to capitalize on that demand, but because the products are all small-ticket items, customers may not even notice the higher cost or are just willing to pay more for a seasonal treat.

This year, a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks costs $6.45 — 18.3% more than the $5.45 for a regular 16-ounce latte. But the largest markup of all? That honor goes to Trader Joe’s pretzels. Their Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels cost 50 cents an ounce, compared with 19 cents an ounce for their regular Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks - that’s a whopping 161% pumpkin spice tax. The top five pumpkin spice products with the biggest markups, according to Magnify Money, are:

  • Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels: 161%
  • Whole Foods Market spiced pumpkin pancake & waffle mix: 130%
  • Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Hummus: 50%
  • Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bisque: 46%
  • Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cheesecake Croissants: 30%

Source: Magnify Money

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