Although the growth is in China, The Hershey Co. decided that its largest single investment in Asia to date will be in Malaysia. A stable government, excellent distribution, globally recognized Halal certification and an educated workforce were reasons cited for choosing Johor, Malaysia as the site for a $250-million manufacturing facility. 

“Consumers across Asia are discovering a range of Hershey confectionery products, and China in particular is growing faster than any other market,” says Terence O’Day, the company’s senior v.p. and chief supply chain officer.  “Our new Malaysia plant will feature the latest confectionery manufacturing technology and will complement production at our existing joint-venture plant in China.

The new plant will include innovations in automated candy-making technology, including proprietary equipment and systems developed to Hershey’s specifications. Its capabilities will include high-speed wrapping machines featuring proprietary, specially engineered wrapping technologies.

After Hershey completes the building structure in early 2015, the Malaysia plant will be one of the largest facilities in the company’s global manufacturing network with 700,000 sq. ft. It will also have the capability to produce the broadest array of finished products of any Hershey factory outside of the United States and Mexico, including millions of Hershey’s Kisses each day.

The plant will produce four of Hershey’s five global brands, which include: Hershey’s Kisses, Ice Breakers, Reese’s and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars. Hershey is expanding its global distribution of these brands as part of the company’s ambitious global growth vision to achieve $10 billion in annual revenue by 2017. The company’s global growth plans include focusing on key international focus markets, such as China, and expanding its consumer product portfolios around the world. Hershey expects international sales to reach approximately $1 billion USD by the end of 2014.

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“We are investing heavily in the region as the middle class continues to grow and consumers increasingly want chocolate and new confectionery products,” says Peter Smit, Hershey’s senior v.p. - Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Our ability to produce high-quality products tailored to local taste preferences and to meet rapidly growing demand will be keys to our success.”

Hershey’s presence in Malaysia will also bring new job opportunities to the country. The company plans to hire locally to staff hundreds of plant positions as well as management roles.