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02/18/2021

Hershey Aims to Lead Better-for-You Confection Segment

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Hershey Aims to Lead Better-for-You Confection Segment Plant-Based
Hershey will introduce more reduced-sugar, organic and plant-based confections while continuing to add to its assortment of classic products.

The Hershey Co. has revealed key strategies to augment and grow the better-for-you (BFY) chocolate segment with new and differentiated capabilities.

The Hershey, Pennsylvania-based candy and snack maker has long offered a wide variety of choices, including  miniature sizes, thinner versions and even an item with zero sugar, but now it seeks to lead in the segment by introducing more reduced-sugar, organic and plant-based options while continuing to add to its assortment of classic products. This portfolio growth is backed by a multi-pronged long-term strategy to advance Hershey’s confection and snacking leadership.  

The strategy encompasses:

  • Core brand packaging and platforms that will continue to offer portion-controlled items in a range of pack types.
  • Innovation that extends core brands to BFY offerings, and revamps existing products to create more choices.
  • Research and development (R&D) that focuses internal efforts and external investments to develop future breakthrough sugar-reduction capabilities and recipes that provide great tastes and textures while meeting the evolving needs of some snackers.
  • Partnerships, licensing and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that enable partnerships with BFY brand partners to co-develop and roll out new offerings.
  • M&A activity that evaluates a pipeline of acquisition opportunities to deliver incremental occasions and access for consumers that Hershey core brands don’t currently reach.

 “We are the leader in U.S. confection, and our consumers rely on us to understand their needs for everyday moments, seasons and special occasions, offering high-quality and great-tasting candy that’s accessible for everyone,” noted Kristen Riggs, chief growth officer at Hershey. “Expanding our expertise, building new capabilities and delivering more choices in better-for-you confection is the next big category opportunity for us to lead.”

Under this strategy, Hershey has teamed with West Palm Beach, Florida-based sweetener company ASR Group to co-lead an equity investment in Bonumose Inc., a Charlottesville, Virginia-based startup offering innovations in plant-based food ingredients, including rare and natural sugars. The investment is part of Hershey’s C7 Ventures, which facilitates growth via capital investments in disruptive or emerging platforms for new occasions, technologies and go-to-market opportunities. The investment makes possible an R&D partnership to advance the tastes of not only zero- and reduced-sugar chocolate, but also Hershey’s broader BFY snack offerings going forward.

“We are setting the foundation for long-term sustainable growth in the better-for-you category at Hershey,” said Hershey President, U.S. Chuck Raup. “Everything we do is led by our consumers and our commitment to deliver only the most delicious snacks.  We are driven to provide more choices to ensure they enjoy our brands and products in ways that are right for them.”

With about 16,000 employees around the world, Hershey manufactures more than 80 brands that drive more than $8 billion in annual revenues, among them Hershey’s, Reese’s, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher, Ice Breakers, SkinnyPop and Pirate’s Booty.

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