Morinaga America, Inc., the official distributor of HI-CHEW, has announced that tenured executive Teruhiro Kawabe (Terry) has been promoted from president, chief executive officer (CEO) of MAI to chief representative for the U.S. and president/CEO as of this month. In his new role, Kawabe will oversee and supervise Morinaga America Foods, Inc., the production facility in North Carolina, and Morinaga America, Inc, the U.S. corporate division of the company. With MAI's goal of strategically expanding the U.S. business, Kawabe will look to optimize business management for both companies and drive the strategic expansion of the U.S. market.

Kawabe has worked with Morinaga Group for over 30 years, previously serving as president and CEO of Morinaga Asia Pacific (MAP) in Bangkok, Thailand before his most recent role at MAI. During his tenure with MAP, Kawabe grew the HI-CHEW brand's distribution footprint throughout New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, tripling the sales volume in just three years.

He also introduced HI-CHEW to the mainstream market through distribution expansion in the grocery, food, drug, mass, and convenience channels of trade. HI-CHEW sales in the U.S. have grown from $8 million in 2012 to more than $100 million in 2021. With Kawabe at the helm, HI-CHEW sales increased by +30.8% since 2021. Additionally, he executed two new brand launches within MAI in 2022, including Chargel, a unique energy gel drink made in Japan, and FI-BEING, a better-for-you hard candy option.

"I'm delighted to continue leading MAI on its path towards sustainable growth and to continue expanding the brand's footprint across the U.S. markets," said Teruhiro Kawabe (Terry). "I'm looking forward to bringing MAI's vision of solidifying a presence in the wellness space to life while continuing to deliver delicious, fun, and better-for-you foods to the U.S. consumers."

HI-CHEW has been steadfast in growing its market share in the U.S. non-chocolate candy category throughout recent years. In light of the U.S. market being a strategic segment of the Morinaga Group's portfolio, the company plans to continue accelerating business growth through new flavor innovation and distribution expansion. The brand's goal is to achieve $250 million in sales by 2030, which is three times the sales HI-CHEW reached in 2021. To accomplish this, MAI will bring many of its unique products and technology from Morinaga Group's HQ in Japan over to the U.S. in the coming years. The company also plans to accelerate the process of new product development through a newly established U.S. research and development lab.

The Morinaga brand has a 120-year history and brand heritage in confectionery and has been looking to break through in the wellness space. Last year's launch of Chargel and FI-BEING was the starting point for this transformation. With this nutritional beverage launch and new wellness focus, the company is moving in the right direction, while continuously accomplishing its mission to create healthy foods that can be enjoyed beyond generations. Morinaga America, Inc is the official distributor of HI-CHEW, the immensely fruity, intensely chewy candy, in the U.S. The company was first established in the U.S. in 2008. After continued growth and expansion, Morinaga America Foods (MAF) opened as a manufacturing plant in Mebane, North Carolina in 2015 to help keep up with the growing demand in the U.S. market. HI-CHEW has a passion for flavor innovation and continues to conduct extensive research to develop new products, with new products on the horizon this year.