The Hershey Co. has named John P. “J.P.” Bilbrey as its new president and ceo.

He’s replacing David J. West who left recently to take the top job at Del Monte Foods Co.

Bilbrey, who also was named as a director of the company, previously served as executive vice president and chief operation office of Hershey. Most recently he was serving as interim president and ceo after West resigned.

“J.P. has the experience, deep industry knowledge and the right skills to lead Hershey’s growth as it continues to evolve into a global company,” says James E. Nevels, chairman of the Board of Directors. “In determining how to best fill this position, the Board unanimously concluded that J.P. is the right person to continue as president and ceo and to lead the company into the future.”

Bilbrey says it is a unique privilege to lead the company.

“Hershey has iconic brands, exceptional people, unmatched capabilities and enormous potential,” he explains. “I’m very grateful for the board’s confidence, and we are fully aligned on how to move the company forward.”

Bilbrey says the company is structured for global growth, and that Hershey is on track to deliver on its financial commitments.

“[We] expect 2011 net sales, including the impact of foreign currency exchange rates, and adjusted earnings per share-diluted growth, to be around the top of the company’s long-term 3 to 5% and 6 to 8% objectives, respectively,” he says.

Bilbrey has more than 30 years of global consumer packaged goods experience and joined Hershey in 2003 as senior vice president, president Hershey international.

Before joining Hershey, Bilbrey held executive positions at Mission Foods and Danone Waters of North America, Inc., a division of Groupe Danone, Paris, France. Additionally, he spent 22 years at The Procter & Gamble Co. where he served in positions of increasing responsibility in both the U.S. domestic business as well as numerous international assignments.
The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa., is the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionery.

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