Pumpk-inflation: The Rise of Pumpkin Prices

Sofia Strohmeier, Copy Editor

As prices continue to rise, inflation creeps up on its next victim: pumpkins. Every fall, families go out and choose from a wide variety of plump, stubby and petite pumpkins to decorate their front porch or to carve out jack-o-lanterns. However, due to current environmental and economic issues, pumpkin patches and retail stores nationwide fear a loss of customers and a lack of available products.

In 2021, pumpkin prices averaged $4.92, rising to $5.68 this year. Local pumpkin patches around the nation have experienced a 20% increase in prices as a result of high fuel costs to transport produce.

For Mr. Jack O’ Lantern Pumpkins, a local pumpkin patch in West Palm Beach, FL, selling prices remain steady, but the farms the company depends on for pumpkins are experiencing conflicts. These conflicts affect their small businesses first-hand based on the expense of transportation.

“We are on the retail side of Halloween pumpkin patches and we retail quite a few pumpkins, but we actually have not increased our prices year over year, but the cost of those pumpkins to us have increased, as well as freight,” Mr. Jack O’ Lantern Pumpkin Patch owner Gali Edwards said.

Additionally, many farms in states such as New York and Texas have suffered severe droughts, affecting pumpkin production and the size of the gourds. Pumpkins depend on heavy amounts of water, and if deprived, their growth tends to stunt; many farmers have reported smaller than usual pumpkins this year. On top of that, pumpkins tend to decay in extreme temperatures, which brings up an issue after reports of record-high heat.

In Florida, local pumpkin patches notice the effects the weather has had on the production of crops.

“Some of these climates where pumpkins [grow], they have to thrive obviously, so in situations where it is super hot out or there is a drought and there is limited water source, then yeah, it might be tough for some of these farms to keep up with their production,” Edwards said.

The growth restriction of pumpkins leads to a shortage of substantially sized pumpkins and overall higher prices.

As a result of this year’s issues, customers favor purchasing from local businesses instead of mass markets, since large shipments of pumpkins in big chains require extra transportation costs. 

“I think if you were to increase your prices, customers would try to look for cheaper options. I think that you see that in all markets. So I think the same would apply to buying pumpkins,” Edwards said.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend a total of $10.6 billion on Halloween this year. Despite the inflation, consumers continue to purchase pumpkins for their holiday traditions and family festivities.