The Hershey Company has long been on the forefront of chocolate brands. Of note, The Hershey Company recently conducted a national study of Gen Z and millennials, which found that 87% think about eating dessert one or more times per day.

“I’ve seen retail bakery expand immensely,” says Herb Ring, national foodservice director at The Hershey Company. “The attitude today of millennials, Gen Z and even boomers is they are looking for a way to get to it more quickly. That’s a real driver — products that are ready baked and presented well.”

What’s inside of the product is also as paramount as anything, he adds. “People want things in the ingredient statement that they know,” Ring says, “and nine out of 10 are going to put back something they don’t know.”

People trust the Hershey brand, he points out, and cites the advantage for the retailer that the Hershey brand is familiar and convenient for the lucrative grab-and-go market. The more you can put on the label that people know, he says, that will drive higher sales.

“We do two things really, really well. Recipe development is one,” Ring says. “We spend an awful lot of time — prior to recipe ideation — on what will drive retail bakery. For example, we know consumers in the Northeast will purchase York Peppermint Pattie more than someone in Alabama. We don’t have it down to the zip code yet, but we can get there.

“The second thing is we work with third-party manufacturers. We have a Hershey’s Sundae Pie at Burger King. Some chains have their own commissary. We’ll provide the recipe, and some will massage the recipe so it gets the retailer to a price point they can afford. All the retailer has to do is pull it out and put it on the shelf.”

When it comes to grasping the full picture, there is something to be said for retailers getting out of their own space and coming to a chocolate manufacturing plant to see where the magic happens. “Come with open eyes and clear minds and listen,” Ring says. At The Hershey Company, they learn the entire process from bean to bar, as well as the culture and the story of Hershey.

“We have a very diverse workforce, and we have a family mentality of pulling together. We believe that if given the chance, our brands will stand out on their own,” Ring says. “We think we can do that because of our culture. People reach out for things they know and trust. If they are going to indulge, they want to indulge with something they know, and they like.”

Hershey Foodservice is one of the industry’s leading branded sweet ingredient, snack and refreshment suppliers, offerings a wide range of products that meet your toppings, baking & culinary, specialty beverage and snacks & convenience needs — including chips, syrups, fudge, cocoa and chopped candy ingredients.