This is the next in our series of Supply Side Innovators featured in our Bake Twentyfive issue. Each weekday, we will spotlight a new Supply Side Innovator that can help you create the flavors, textures, and designs your customers will love

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.”

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

What’s inside of the product is also as paramount as anything, Ring says. “People want things in the ingredient statement that they know, 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’ll provide the recipe, and some will massage the recipe so it gets the retailer to a price point they can afford.”

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. 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.”

Fast facts

The Milton Hershey School began as a dream and vision shared by chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey and his wife, Catherine (Kitty). Unable to have children of their own, the Hersheys decided to use their wealth to create a home and school for orphaned boys. Established in 1909, the first students of what was then called the Hershey Industrial School lived and attended classes in The Homestead, the rural birthplace of Milton Hershey. For more than 100 years, Milton Hershey School has helped children to realize their full potential by offering a top-notch education to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from income-eligible families. Milton Hershey School is a cost-free, private, coeducational school in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Today, more than 2,000 students from across the US attend Milton Hershey School.