The Future Of Hershey May Be Snack Foods, Not Chocolate

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Hershey? For most of us, it would be chocolate: After all, the more than 120-year-old company founded in 1894 has been focused on chocolate since the very beginning, first manufacturing its famous milk chocolate bar back in 1900 (via The Hershey Company). Since then, Hershey has basically become synonymous with chocolate, marketing a range of bars and treats from Special Dark Chocolate to Almond Kisses to cocoa powder (via Hersheyland).

But did you know that some of your favorite salty snack foods might be manufactured by this chocolate titan? According to FoodNavigator, Hershey has been steadily consolidating its savory snack portfolio over the past few years, acquiring various brands like SkinnyPop popcorn, Tyrrells potato chips, and Pirate's Booty. Far from concentrating on chocolate and other sweets, Hershey is on track to become one of the biggest players in the salty snack game, and that's at least in part because lately, the salty snack category has become an increasingly profitable one.

Hershey plans to become a snacking powerhouse

The Hershey chocolate brand has been successfully broadening its salty snack portfolio since 2017, when, according to FoodNavigator, it acquired Amplify Snack Brands, whose portfolio included popular SkinnyPop popcorn and Paqui tortilla chips. Unsurprisingly, the move was made with an eye towards profit: In 2017, Nielsen data demonstrated that salty dominated the snack market, with a market worth an estimated $27.7 billion, outselling candy, cheese, and cookies (via Forbes). At the time, Hershey CEO Michele Buck wrote in a statement that the purchase would "allow us to capture more consumer snacking occasions," Forbes reported.

In 2018, according to FoodNavigator, Hershey bought B&G Foods' puffy snack Pirate's Booty — a $10 million brand that Hershey planned to grow to a $1 billion brand — and last year, it purchased Dot's Homestyle Pretzels, the fastest growing pretzel brand in the country. Hershey's salty snack portfolio has been doing well, with FoodNavigator reporting that at the end of Q1 2022, Dot's, SkinnyPop, and Pirate's Booty all experienced retail sales growth — a trend bolstered by more people returning to working outside the home and relying on ready-to-eat salty snacks as part of their routines.

According to corporate brand manager Todd M. Scott, Hershey won't shy away from adding additional salty snacks to its family of brands. "We have ambitions to become a snacking powerhouse," he told FoodNavigator, "and we'll continue to investigate opportunities where we think we can do well."