Hershey's to reduce sweets' calorie count

You can kiss Hershey's high calorie counts goodbye.

The chocolate company announced Friday that by 2022, half of its individually wrapped standard- and king-size sweets will be 200 calories or fewer. To lower that count, Hershey's will reformulate treats, introduce new ones and adjust the sizes of certain products. Also, by 2020, king-size bars will be designed to be more easily shared or split and saved for later; for example, instead of coming in one large piece, candy might be broken into two or three pieces in the package.

Spokesman Jeff Beckman said there was no set number of new products coming and that shrinkage would be "slight."

"The standard Hershey bar is 210 calories, so the path to 200 is very close," he explained. "We’d be focusing on products that would get there without much."

Hershey also unveiled a plan to put an easy-to-read, front-of-pack calorie label on all standard- and king-size confections by the end of 2018.

Currently, an estimated 31% of Hershey's standard- and king-size sweets are 200 calories or fewer, according to the company. Seventy percent of products now have what the company calls the Facts Up Front calorie label.

These moves were inspired by customer feedback, according to Hershey.

"We’re calling it informed choice — where I can walk up to the display and if I want a king size, that’s my choice, but I want to know what I’m buying and how many calories are involved," Beckman said. .

Creating petite packages to limit calories is a strategy food companies have used for over a decade. Soft drink mini cans are popular, and everything from crackers to cookies to nuts now come in 100-calorie packages.

Smaller sizes doesn't mean lower prices, however, because they require more packaging material per volume of product. And it takes more time to produce, fill and seal two mini packages than it does one big one.

"This carries forward through the distribution chain," Susan Selke, director of Michigan State University's School of Packaging, explained. "Because there is going to be more packaging material, more fuel proportionally will be used to move the two small packages than the one large one."

Pamela Long, partner and director of client services for the White Plains, N.Y.-based brand strategy and design firm Big Little Brands, expects people to embrace Hershey's changes.

"Consumers are used to and fine with paying more for a better product," she said. "They’re a candy company and people love their products, so they definitely have a market out there ... At the end of the day, if they are able to do that in better way, in a little healthier way, in a way that helps people eat a lit bit less or consume fewer calories, that’d a good thing."

Hershey's stock closed at $107.40, down $1.40, or 1.3%.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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