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Hershey Co. will sell Lancaster Soft Caramels in US

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Marking the first time in 30 years it has released a new candy brand in the U.S., The Hershey Co. today said it will sell its Lancaster-brand soft caramel candies here beginning in January.

Hershey first revealed it was launching a new brand of candies in May, producing and selling the Lancaster caramels in three Chinese cities this year and expanding to other Chinese markets next year.

The U.S. launch will be nationwide, and Lancaster Soft Caramels will come in three flavors: caramel, vanilla and caramel, and raspberry, according to the company.

The Lancaster name, and the caramels themselves, are a nod to Milton Hershey's original company in Lancaster, the Lancaster Caramel Co. It provided the foundation for Hershey to launch his signature chocolate manufacturing operation, according to the company.

Hershey will make the caramels for U.S. sales at a Canadian facility because that’s where the specific technology for this type of candy is located, spokesman Jeff Beckman said. Caramels for the Chinese markets will be produced in China.

When Hershey began development of the Lancaster caramels, research showed that China and the U.S. were the two largest markets for this type of candy, Beckman said. Caramels, or milk candies, are China’s largest confection segment worth $1.5 billion.

The company launched the new brand in China first because they were starting with a limited three-city distribution, Beckman said. That takes less lead time than a national launch as is planned for the U.S. The entire process leading up to Lancaster’s launch has taken more than two years of planning, he said.

Hershey, based in Derry Township, Dauphin County, trades its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HSY.

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