Herjit Bhalla, Hershey India Managing Director
Herjit Bhalla, Hershey India Managing Director

Hershey launches chocolate bars in India, expands retail reach

  • Hershey also rolls out iconic drop shaped chocolates Kisses nationally
  • The company’s products are targeted at the premium urban consumer

Hershey India Private Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of the American confectionery maker, known for its syrups and spreads, announced the launch of chocolate bars under its flagship Hershey’s brand. With this, the company has also rolled out Hershey’s Kisses nationally. Kisses, its iconic drop shaped chocolates were launched in the South in 2018. Speaking to Mint, the company’s managing director Herjit S. Bhalla said that Hershey’s Bar is the number one molded bar in America, also available in 80 countries. “We are announcing probably our biggest play in chocolates. Up until now, we were playing in the smaller categories like spreads and syrups. But the Hershey’s brand in India has very strong equity. It’s premium and aspirational. It is that equity we are now leveraging," said Bhalla.

With the launch of the bars, Hershey India enters the chocolate market dominated by Mondelez. Its flagship brand Cadbury Dairy Milk is more than 70 years old and India’s biggest chocolate brand. Mondelez is a leader in India’s chocolate market with 65% share.

Bhalla, however, said that the company’s products are targeted at the premium urban consumer. “Although with the launch of chocolate bars we are looking to expand our outlet reach by 3X, we will still be available in modern trade, e-commerce platforms and upscale general trade stores. With the expanded portfolio, we will go deeper in the top 70 cities in urban India," he said. The bar will initially be imported into India from Malaysia. The Hershey’s Bars are available in three variants, the classic Creamy Milk, the Whole Almonds variant and Cookies ‘n’ Crème. These are priced at 55 and 60 for 40g and Rs. 130 and Rs. 140 for the 100 g pack.

Meanwhile, the company has also moved its Brookside brand of chocolate under Hershey’s portfolio as Dark Exotic for the Indian market. Bhalla said, the Indian consumer is more familiar with the Hershey’s brand. Brookside was launched here at the end of 2016.

Bhalla said that its soya milk brand Sofit and Hershey’s have been the focus brands for the Indian market. “In the last two years our focus brands have grown at 30% CAGR. Our base may be small but we are a growing organization. It was in 2017-18 that we got ourselves into acceleration stage," Bhalla said.

The company has its own state-of-the-art facility in Bhopal where all its beverages get made. But for chocolates, it works with manufacturing partner based in Gujarat. “The manufacturing strategy will evolve with growth and how the market expands. So for Kisses, we have now doubled our manufacturing capacity in India to meet the estimated demand on us going national," Bhalla said.

Between 2019-2023 India’s confectionery market is expected to grow at an annual average pace of 9.3%, according to researcher Euromonitor. However, per capita consumption of chocolates remains low, at 120 gm per person a year. According to Hershey’s India’s chocolate market is $1.4 billion, growing at 13% a year.

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