Salty and sweet = Big bucks

Hershey found success by doubling down on domestic sales and adding salty to its sweet.

Hershey’s been crushing it lately, and not just because it’s Halloween.

According to The Wall Street Journal, it’s thanks to two strategies adopted by Michele Buck, who became CEO in 2017:

  • The Hershey Co. doubled down on domestic sales, where it holds a 46% share of the US chocolate market, as opposed to expanding internationally.
  • It invested in what chief growth officer Kristen Riggs calls the “great synergies” of salty and sweet.

That makes sense, considering the most popular candy in the US is Hershey’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which combine sweet chocolate with salty peanut butter.

To add the salt…

… Hershey began acquiring non-candy salty snack brands, including SkinnyPop, Pirate’s Booty, and Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels.

Not every acquisition was successful — Hershey sold jerky maker Krave Pure Foods back to its owner in 2020 after buying it in 2015 — but overall, it’s been a success.

  • Hershey shares are up 33% YoY, and ~120% over the last five years.
  • North American sales now account for 92% of Hersey’s total sales, versus 88% in 2017.

The Hershey Co.…

… is no stranger to pivoting when it gets a whiff of new potential.

It was founded in Pennsylvania by Milton S. Hershey in 1894 as a subsidiary of the Lancaster Caramel Co., which he founded in 1886.

After seeing a chocolate-making machine at a world’s fair, he sold his caramel company for $1m — $30m+ today — to focus on chocolate, claiming that caramel was a fad but chocolate was “permanent.”

BTW: If you really love salty and sweet, this NYT Cooking recipe for sea salt olive oil chocolate brownies is a banger.

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