HERSHEY, Pa. — The Hershey Company announced it will build a new 250,000 square-foot chocolate facility in Hershey.
Pending final planning approvals, the new facility will support production capabilities for its iconic candy brands like Reese’s, Kit Kat and Hershey’s, the company said.
The construction of the new facility is the next project in Hershey’s multi-year investment strategy, which the company says is already underway. This strategy includes expanding existing facilities and developing new capabilities to drive the production of its core brands while building the capacity needed for continued growth.
“Our ability to grow – today and in the future – is rooted in how fast we can make and deliver our products,” said Will Bonifant, Vice President, U.S. & Canada Supply Chain, in a press release issued Friday. “We’ve made significant investments over the past few years with new facilities and updates to existing sites to speed production and make more of the iconic brands consumers love.”
The new facility, which will be located on a 55-acre site near the company’s Reese’s plant, is part of an approved $1 billion investment in the company’s supply chain network.
This investment includes not only the new facility but also the addition of 13 production lines and the upgrading of 11 existing lines in other North American facilities, the Hershey Co. said.
Earlier this year, the company celebrated a previous phase of the strategy with the opening of its first digitally-enabled fulfillment center in nearby Annville, Lebanon County.
The expansions across the network come at a time when consumer demand for Hershey products is at an all-time high, according to the company.
Through the past few years of uncertainty in the world around us, consumers have engaged even more in celebrating seasons with family and friends resulting in 5% compounded retail sales growth in seasonal candy sales and 15% compounded retail sales growth in snack size since 2019, the company said in its press release.
A forthcoming line expansion at the West Hershey plant will help meet the increased demand for seasonal snack-size packages for filling candy bowls – especially for the Halloween season, the company added.
Similarly, consumers’ love for Reese’s has resulted in a 10% compounded retail sales growth since 2019, making it the third-largest snacking brand in the U.S. ranked against candy, salty snacks, baked goods, cookies and more, according to the company.
The brand’s popularity extends from its standard peanut butter cup offering to its newer forms of innovation like Reese’s Stuffed with Pretzels and Reese’s Stuffed with Potato Chips, each of which reached #1 in retail sales in their launch years of 2020 and 2021, respectively.
“We are committed to investing to meet the needs of our consumers in collaboration with our retail partners and suppliers,” said Bonifant. “Investing in the strengths of our core brands -- made right here in our hometown – will ensure that we’re meeting those consumer needs across a wide variety of snacking occasions and will help fuel future growth.”
Initial work on the site will begin within days with the demolition of the former Friendly’s restaurant at the intersection of Route 422 and University Drive near Hershey’s Technical Center. The new chocolate facility is scheduled to be operational in early 2024.