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Elmer Chocolate Factory not cutting production despite rising inflation, labor shortage

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PONCHATOULA, La. - Thousands of chocolate candies are already being placed into heart-shaped boxes, as Elmer Candy Co. prepares for another busy Valentine's day.

Sales are better than ever, but that doesn't mean the iconic Louisiana chocolate factory is exempt from setbacks being seen worldwide.

“You’ve heard about supply chain issues, you’ve heard about availability of people to work. All of those have been challenges for us this year," said CEO Robert Nelson. 

Despite being the biggest employer in Ponchatoula, they are fighting against a labor shortage. 

“Having enough people with the skills to work in manufacturing has been a concern," Nelson said.

As a seasonal company, they face their own set of issues. Inflation is making the cost of production go up, but merchandise pricing was set in January, which means they cannot increase the cost of their own goods.

Shipping delays due to a lack of truck drivers are also a concern. Vital equipment is taking much longer to arrive than anticipated.

"You know we have a line that was supposed to be delivered next month and now we’re looking at May, or June," Nelson said.

For now, Nelson is choosing not to focus on the negative. Instead, he sees the gaps in employment as an opportunity for new hires to step in. 

“It’s just a really good opportunity for people to find a long-term job, that pays well, that can be a career," Nelson said. 

Regardless of the bumps in the road, the company is making it work and producing to their fullest capacity. 

"You go to the stores today and you see empty shelves," Nelson said. "We wanna make sure we do our part to get those products people love to have for the holidays."

With eased COVID restrictions, the company is expecting a busy holiday season.


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