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Snickers, M & Ms Maker Raising Prices

Mars said it is raising wholesale prices more than 12 percent to offset the higher costs of raw materials, packaging and energy, the second major candy maker to announce such a move.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- The maker of Snickers bars and M&Ms candies said it is raising wholesale prices more than 12 percent to offset the higher costs of raw materials, packaging and energy, the second major candy company in the past week to announce such a move.

The statement issued this week by Mars follows a similar announcement by its larger candy rival, The Hershey Co., which cited the spiraling costs of everything from cocoa and peanuts to fuel and utilities.

The changes represent a 12.2 percent value increase to Mars' entire U.S. portfolio, and affect single bars as well as other package types, Mars spokeswoman Bertille Glass said Thursday.

The privately held Mars said the majority of the price increases will take effect Oct. 17, while it also will cut back on the volume in some of its package types. Mars also makes Dove, Milky Way, Skittles and Starburst brands.

"We have attempted to hold off on further price changes this year and only took this action after very careful consideration on the impact to our valued customers based on current market pressures," the company said.

A spokeswoman for Nestle USA Inc. did not return calls requesting information on its prices.

Last week, Hershey, which makes Hershey's Kisses and Reese's peanut butter cups, said it raised prices on its products by an average of 11 percent, a move that it said it expected would hurt sales volumes.

Mars has already raised prices twice this year -- the combined increases in 2008 amount to a 15.5 percent hike, Mars said -- while Hershey raised its prices once, in January.

Prices increases have been a sensitive topic in the industry. Investigations into price-fixing allegations in the chocolate industry have been launched by U.S., Canadian and European authorities, prompting numerous civil lawsuits.

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