Mars bar shortage causing gaps on UK supermarket shelves | Food & drink industry

Shoppers looking for Mars bars have been encountering empty shelves and “out of stock” messages on supermarket websites, with some stores warning they are not expecting deliveries for two weeks or more.

When asked about the apparent shortages, one major retailer told the Guardian that “[it] looks like a production issue on Mars’s end may be causing gaps across retailers”.

In response, Mars Wrigley, the company behind Mars, Snickers, Bounty and Twix bars, said it was “experiencing high levels of demand”, but added that it wanted to “reassure the British public that our much-loved brands are still available nationwide”.

It comes a month after the US chocolate manufacturer Hershey warned of shortages, saying the company “will not be able to fully meet consumer demand”.

Nestlé, which makes KitKats and other chocolate brands, has blamed “significant and unprecedented cost inflation” for a 6.5% rise in prices in the first half of this year.

The Guardian visited a handful of Tesco stores in London this week to check availability, and found a mixed picture.

At one store in Walthamstow, north-east London, on 23 August, there was a gap on the shelf where standard single Mars bars should have been , although there were plenty of other chocolate bar brands in stock. When we returned to the same store later in the week, there were no packs of Mars Duo bars either. There was a sticker on an empty shelf saying that the next delivery was expected on 10 September.

At another Tesco in Walthamstow, there were no Mars Duo or Snickers Duo packs left on the shelves at the time of the visit.

A Tesco in Camden, north London, had sold out of Snickers Duo until 29 August, while white chocolate Twix bars were out of stock, with an expected delivery date of 9 September. Twix Xtra bars were available, as well as a handful of Mars Duo packs.

Empty Mars bars shelves in Tesco in Walthamstow. Photograph: Rupert Jones/The Guardian

At a Tesco in King’s Cross, north London, there were standard single bars of Mars, Snickers, Bounty and Twix available, but gaps on the shelves and “sorry, out of stock” stickers where Mars Duo, Snickers Duo and Snickers four-packs should have been.

When the Guardian checked the Tesco website on Friday, it said that four-packs of Mars, Snickers and Bounty bars were all out of stock. However, on that day it did have single Mars bars.

On Asda’s website, a number of Mars bar products were out of stock, including four-packs, snack-size multipacks and low-calorie snack bar multipacks. However, it, too, had standard single bars in stock.

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Other supermarket websites – including Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – appeared to have most if not all the brands in stock.

It was not immediately clear whether the lack of stock at some outlets was connected to the production of the bars or supply chain or retailer-specific issues.

In the UK, Mars bars are still produced at the same factory where the first bars were made by hand in 1932. The company says on its website that at this factory in Slough, Berkshire, “we can make nearly 3m bars a day”.

A spokesperson for Mars Wrigley said: “We are experiencing high levels of demand on a number of our treats.”

They added: “We are producing significant quantities and want to reassure the British public that our much-loved brands are still available nationwide.”

Tesco declined to comment.

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