The Hershey Co. today said it's launching its first new brand outside the U.S. in nearly 120 years with Lancaster, a rich milk-based candy for the Chinese markets.
Dauphin County-based Hershey plans to launch three varieties of the candies known as Nai Bei in Wuhan, Hangzhou and Chengdu cities next month, with a wider distribution in 2014.
The candies are not only the first product launched outside the U.S., but also the first new candy in 30 years that isn't an extension of existing brands, according to the company. Lancaster will compete with similar milk candy markets worth $1.2 billion, or about a quarter of the total China confections market.
China has been a key focus of Hershey's international expansion, which the company outlined last year when it set a goal to improve international sales and hit $10 billion in revenue by 2017.
In 2012, Hershey's sales growth in China topped its international markets at 20 percent for its core brands of Hershey's, Kisses, Reese's, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers.
Even though the Lancaster brand is a new direction, it keeps with one of Hershey's earliest traditions, the company said. The candies are similar to those that founder Milton S. Hershey produced at his Lancaster factory before launching the chocolate operations.