As seasonal themed products seem to creep their way into stores earlier each year, the reason is clear, candy is big business and sugary products of the Halloween variety are enjoying an increase in sales.

According to new findings published in Packaged Facts’ “Chocolate Candy in the US, 10th Edition,” last year’s sales of seasonal Halloween chocolate candy reached $217 million, up 12 percent from the previous year. The growth of candy in this market outperformed purchases of similar seasonal chocolate products during Christmas, and was equal to percentage gains experienced during Valentine’s Day.

Five manufacturers account for 98 percent of Halloween chocolate sales. These companies include Hershey, Mars, Nestle, Russell Stover, and R.M. Palmer.

Overall, in 2013 the US chocolate market grew 4 percent to reach $21 billion.