Australian lolly lovers are lamenting the loss of the fruit-flavoured chew Starburst, with the distributor Mars-Wrigley confirming they have discontinued the brand.
Once a star of birthday parties and movie nights, the sweet’s absence from shelves was only noticed in early August, when a TikTok lamenting the disappearance attracted 270,000 views and over 1000 comments.
TikTok creator Nariman Dein described her inability to find the Starburst lollies as “a conspiracy theory”. In response to the attention generated by the video, Mars-Wrigley released a statement confirming the departure was reality, not conspiracy.
“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 last two years,” a spokesperson for the company said. “After reviewing all options, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the brand in Australia from June 2022.”
A spokesperson for Mars-Wrigley confirmed to Guardian Australia that the brand’s discontinuation was a long-term business decision, and not a short-term viral marketing strategy.
The decision to cease importing Starburst comes after a steady decline in popularity. Woolworths dropped the line from its range in 2015, followed by Coles in 2018.
The Mars-Wrigley statement continued: “As a proud Australian manufacturer for more than 60 years, we are taking this opportunity to prioritise and invest in the brands and products we make locally in Australia such as M&Ms®, Maltesers®, Skittles®, Snickers®, Extra® And Eclipse®.”
The decision does not mean the confectionery will be entirely absent from Australian shelves: parallel importers, such as specialty sweets shops, may still stock the products.