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Hershey wants India to be its export base, seeks exemptions from tariffs

Hershey, as part of their plan to invest $50 million in India over five years, launched Hershey’s Kisses in the country but Schiller feels that India needs more bilateral and multilateral trade agreements

(L-R) Steven Schiller, President, International, The Hershey Company, Michele Buck, President and CEO, The Hershey Company and Herjit Bhalla, MD, Hershey India at the launch of Hershey's Kisses

Last year, Hershey had announced that the company will be investing $50 million in India over five years. As the first leg of making true on that announcement, the company today has brought Hershey’s Kisses to the Indian market.

The company that entered the Indian market a decade ago with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, will make their iconic Kisses available across the four South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.

While, the company has a manufacturing facility in Mandideep, Bhopal, where all their beverages are manufactured, everything else is made in their co-manufacturing facilities.

However, the company’s exports from India is very miniscule because of the tariff barriers in the country.

“We would love to see tariff barriers come down and see more reciprocal agreement between India and other markets because we would love to export in a much bigger way. There are very restrictive barriers to import into India and if you are another country, why would you make it easier to export from India? So, we would love to see more bilateral or multilateral agreements that would lower trade barriers and encourage free trade. We would love to make our infrastructure work harder,” said Steven Schiller, President, International, The Hershey Company.

Hershey’s Kisses will be available in three flavours across modern trade, large general trade and e-commerce channels in South India.

Commenting on why the brand chose the south of India to launch Kisses, Herjit Bhalla, Managing Director, Hershey India, said that South is a strong market for Hershey and also a strong market for chocolates as it accounts for one third of the chocolate market.

“Chocolate is very complex and very different and therefore having the right cold-chain setup, having the right stores that can handle chocolates, making sure that it gets to the consumers in the right way and having the right media model are important factors and South has a number of elements that allow us to hone that,” added Schiller.

While, the spokespeople refused to share current and expected market share, Bhalla did mention that Hershey is the current market leader in chocolate syrups and coco powder.

Bhalla also mentioned that the chocolate market in urban India is estimated to be $1.2 billion strong and is growing at a rate of 11%. According to Bhalla, all Hershey products have shown a growth of 50%.

Commenting on the importance of the Indian market for the company Schiller said, “There is a lot of potential for The Hershey Company in India. This market is an important part of our International growth model. The Hershey’s brand has been leading our India growth and Hershey’s Kisses is a wonderful way to continue that growth by tapping into the growing chocolate segment.”

Tara Sharma will continue to be the face of Hershey’s Kisses and the brand has also launched a 360-degree marketing campaign to promote the product.

The TVC has been created by JWT.

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