US-based chocolate and confectionery firm Hershey today said it would be investing USD 50 million in India over the next five years to scale up its operations here. “We anticipate an investment of about USD 50 million during the next five years as we focus on growing and expanding our presence in India. India is one of our key International focus markets and we are investing to build this important business,” Hershey India Chairman and Managing Director Praveen Jakate said. “We are excited about the future of our great brands and products in India. Our investments over the next several years will help us to further build upon our positive momentum,” he added. The Hershey Company, the world’s fourth-largest confectioner maker, had entered India through a joint venture with Godrej Group in 2008, but dissolved it four years later, buying out the entire stake. India is among the four key markets for the company globally outside North America. Hershey India’s product portfolio includes brands like Hershey’s Syrups, Hershey’s Milk Booster, Hershey’s Spreads, Hershey’s Milk Shakes, Sofit, Jolly Rancher, Brookside Chocolates, Jumpin, Nutrine and Smart Cook. The Pennsylvania-headquartered firm, which recently announced its third quarter global earnings, had said that India has emerged as the fastest growing market, clocking a net sales growth of 16 per cent.
“Constant currency net sales in India increased 16 per cent and slightly exceeded our plan. Growth in the brands we are investing behind continues to be solid. Our transition of the India portfolio is enabling a higher margin business, and we are on track to expand gross margins here by 1,000 basis points in 2017. This is enabling adjustments in the local marketplace that should result in a sustainable operating model,” The Hershey Company Chief Financial Officer Patricia Little had said.