A leading confectionary manufacturer has devastated Australian sweet-tooths, after quietly killing off a cult favourite lolly brand.
The alert was raised only after deprived shoppers took to social media to complain about empty supermarket shelves where their favourite Starbursts were once stocked.
Confectionary giant Mars Wrigley revealed on Wednesday the brand had been discontinued in Australia since June.
But the dumping was kept quiet, and revealed only when shoppers took to social media to swap theories about why they couldn’t buy Starbursts in their local shops any more.
A Mars Wrigley spokesperson told The New Daily the “difficult decision” to axe the brand, best-known for its fruit-flavoured chews, was down to supply chain issues and cost pressures.
“We regularly review our Mars Wrigley product range to ensure we’re offering our consumers great-tasting products that are also great value for money,” they said.
“Our Starburst products are imported from Europe and, like many businesses that are importing products from overseas, the brand has been exposed to supply chain difficulties and rising cost pressures over the past two years.”
The confectionary brand is just the latest victim of ongoing supply chain issues, as COVID, poor weather and the Russia-Ukraine conflict lead to a host of grocery items disappearing from shelves – or becoming available only at higher prices.
Fresh produce such as lettuce and berries have been hit the hardest by recent shortages and price hikes. The cost of milk – dairy and plant-based – has also risen as producers pay more for labour, energy and distribution.
The Mars Wrigley spokesperson didn’t reveal plans for the future of Starburst internationally, but said it would use the Australian discontinuation as an opportunity to focus on its other local products. They include M&Ms, Maltesers, and Extra chewing gum.
Although the decision may seem sudden, signs consumer interest was waning appeared years ago.
In 2018, Woolworths and Coles removed Starburst’s entire range from their stores without official explanation. A Facebook post from a Coles representative at the time cited reduced consumer demand.
The brand had continued to be stocked by other retailers such as 7-Eleven.