Hershey upped its annual sales and profit expectations on Thursday, citing stronger-than-expected performance and high demand for its chocolates and candies during the "largest-ever" Halloween season.

After the epidemic curtailed trick-or-treating gatherings last year, demand for the company's products such as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and KitKat chocolates increased around the October holiday.

"As we approach Halloween's final days, sales and sell-through are both looking well... As more family gatherings occur this year, we expect this strength to carry over into the holiday season "Michele Buck, the company's CEO, stated.

According to the company, early and mid-season category sales increased 18% over last year and 12% over 2019, with trick-or-treat participation likely to return to pre-pandemic levels.HERSHEY'S 12 MIXED BARS DIFFERENT FLAVORS CHOCOLATES BAR ORIGINAL WITH BOX  (V STAR) : Amazon.co.uk: Grocery

According to a National Retail Federation survey, consumer spending on Halloween-related items will hit an all-time high of $10.14 billion this year, up from $8.05 billion in 2020.

Hershey, like other packaged food companies, has raised prices in recent months to offset rising raw material and freight costs caused by the pandemic's global supply chain disruptions.

The chocolate company predicted that increased consumer demand would balance the additional costs.

Hershey expects net sales to increase by 8% to 9% in 2021, compared to a range of 6% to 8% previously.

It also anticipates adjusted earnings per share to range from $6.98 to $7.11, up from the previous forecast of $6.79 to $6.92.

According to Refinitiv IBES statistics, net sales increased 6.3% to $2.34 billion in the third quarter, compared to projections of $2.33 billion.

Hershey made $2.10 per share on an adjusted basis, topping analyst expectations of $2.00.