Hershey Holds First Open Innovation Summit

Taps into knowledge, skills of key suppliers to unlock potential

BALTIMORE -- The Hershey Co. hosted earlier this month its first annual Global Partner Summit, an open innovation forum that is part of the company's key strategy of using innovation to drive global growth. The goal of the summit, held in Baltimore, is to unleash the combined resources of Hershey's internal innovation resources and its broad supply base to create new ideas, new capabilities, more sustainable practices and consumer-focused innovations that will drive growth.

"Tapping the deep knowledge and great ideas across our company and our business partners will unlock our combined innovation and productivity capabilities," said John P. Bilbrey, president and CEO of The Hershey Co. "Together, our shared knowledge, insights and expertise will fuel achievable, consistent, sustainable growth for Hershey and our supply partners."

Innovation is a key strategy for Hershey's long-range global growth vision. It will play a fundamental role in the company's drive to reach $10 billion in net sales by 2017.

More than 70 suppliers have assembled in Baltimore to work on a range of innovation opportunities, including new product ideas, improvements to formulations and recipes, innovative packaging and process and technology improvements.

Hershey expects the open innovation program will increase the number and impact of innovations it develops annually and will accelerate the speed to market for new ideas, resulting in a faster realization of value from the integrated innovation program. Open innovation will also support the company's efforts to grow in new and emerging markets while reducing overall innovation costs.

"Establishing a process to better leverage our suppliers' tremendous R&D resources and capabilities will open up new possibilities for developing breakthrough ideas," said William Papa, vice president of global research and development at Hershey. "We will build better ways of operating by utilizing new technologies that are more efficient and effective. Ultimately, this will enhance our global product portfolio and help maintain our high quality standards, which have been the cornerstone of The Hershey Co. since Milton Hershey developed his famous Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars more than a century ago."

Hershey is the largest producer of chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionery. Based in Hershey, Pa., the company has operations throughout the world. With revenues of more than $6.6 billion, it offers confectionery products under more than 80 brand names, including Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Hershey's Bliss, Hershey's Special Dark, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers.