Pumpkin Spice Latte season is in full swing, even though some grocery stores don't even have pumpkin on their shelves. If you are able to get your hands on the pumpkin spice version of your favorite food, chances are you may be spending more due to a hidden "pumpkin spice tax."
The prices of pumpkin products are up almost 9% compared to their peers, according to an analysis by MagnifyMoney. The site compared products from Amazon Fresh, FreshDirect, Trader Joe's, Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods. MagnifyMoney then identified what it calls a "pumpkin spice tax," in which the highest related markup was 175.1%.
That markup was uncovered at Whole Foods, specifically with its 365 Everyday Value pumpkin spice cheesecake sandwich cremes. The seasonal item costs $3.99, whereas the 365 Everyday Value chocolate sandwich cremes only cost $2.99. Look at the cost per ounce, and you'll see the difference in the price more clearly. The non-seasonal chocolate sandwich cremes cost $0.15 per ounce, while the pumpkin spice cheesecake sandwich cremes cost $0.41 per ounce. (For more on grocery prices and availability, here are the 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply.)
At Target, David all-natural roasted&salted pumpkin seeds are 103.2% more expensive than David original salted&roasted sunflower seeds. The original sunflower seeds cost $1.39, while the pumpkin seeds cost $2.69.
Autumnal harvest creamy pasta sauce, which is the counterpart to Trader Joe's tomato basil marinara, costs 102.8% more. The original costs $1.79, or $0.07 an ounce, while the fall-themed version costs $3.49, or $0.14 an ounce.
MagnifyMoney found no exact basis for the price increases. However, it did note that some retailers, such as Dunkin' and McDonald's, charge the same or nearly the same amount for their pumpkin-themed menu items. The same can't be said for Tim Horton's and Starbucks, though. Because of the so-called "pumpkin spice tax," a PSL may cost you up to 20% more there.
Some outlier pumpkin products may actually cost you less. The Paleonola grain-free original granola at Whole Foods is 20% more expensive than the Paleonola grain-free pumpkin pie granola. Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix costs $2.49 at Target, but Betty Crocker pumpkin spice cookie mix only costs $1.99. For the full list of products and their prices, here's MagnifyMoney's official list.
One way to not pay more for pumpkin-themed foods this year is to make your own! Try these 30 Delicious Pumpkin Recipes instead.