We know our consumers rely on us to understand their needs for everyday moments, seasons and special occasions. We take pride in our ability to offer high-quality and great-tasting candy that's accessible for everyone. Looking ahead, we see an exciting opportunity to expand our expertise, build further capabilities and deliver even more choices in Better-For-You (BFY) confection.
Today marks an exciting next step in our BFY journey. After announcing our investment in Bonumose, Inc., a start-up company with breakthrough innovations in plant-based food ingredients, including rare and innovative sugars, is now breaking ground on a new plant in Albemarle County, Virginia. This new facility will be critical to our work on using rare sugars in snacking and confection. In addition to our work with Bonumose, our team here at Hershey is working tirelessly to support the development and accessibility of rare sugars through a multi-prong approach. Our efforts include focusing R&D capabilities on initiatives such as recipe development and technology as well as advocating to the FDA for labeling exemptions in order to help us make more BFY options a reality with the use of rare sugars.
In early 2021, we announced a strategic roadmap to expand and grow the BFY chocolate category with new and differentiated capabilities. These include investments in core brand packaging and platforms, innovation, R&D, partnerships, licensing and M&A. We also announced a strategic partnership with ASR Group - one of the world's leading sweetener companies - to co-lead an equity investment in Bonumose.
Fueled by our investment, Bonumose's new $27.7 million Virginia plant represents a transformative next step in our long-term sustainable growth in the BFY category. Specifically, the new 36,000-square-foot building will expand production capabilities and allow us to work with Bonumose to pull our collective R&D expertise and resources together in order to streamline our efforts in making rare and innovative sugar ingredients more affordable and accessible to a mass audience.
Creating great products starts with the right experts who are armed with the right research. Our R&D team is working with Bonumose to advance and communicate research on rare sugars. This research will ultimately help us grow our BFY portfolio.
Additional focus areas for our R&D teams include:
Our long-term focus is ambitious, and includes changing existing labeling requirements, as the FDA considers sugar exemption labeling for rare sugars.
Hershey has been a leading voice in this campaign. In October 2020, when the FDA asked for comments on sugars that are metabolized differently than traditional sugars, Hershey cited data2 that showed allulose - one of the rare sugars we are researching - has seen increased use in products since 2019 when the FDA issued guidance for its exemption from sugar and added sugar labeling on the Nutrition Facts Label.
We’ve also advocated for the rare sugar, tagatose, to receive the same exemption. We’re continuing to advocate for the labeling of additional non-traditional sugars as a category. Doing so will remove significant barriers to our ability to research more non-traditional sugars such as ribose, isomaltulose, and L-arabinose. These efforts would give the CPG industry more tools to help provide sugar-reduced products for health-conscious consumers.
Rare sugars are here to stay and will continue to play a critical role in the BFY category and larger CPG landscape for the foreseeable future. As we challenge ourselves to reach new consumers in new occasions, rare sugars represent an important next step in this journey to develop more affordable, accessible and great-tasting offerings.
Through our investments, and our continued commitment to groundbreaking R&D, we will continue to lead what’s next for our consumers, and build upon the legacy of Milton Hershey by bringing what was once considered a luxury item to the masses.
To learn more about the new Bonumose plant, read the release.
2 Data from Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands, showed new products containing allulose in the U.S. grew from 20 in the first half of 2019 to 107 in the second half of 2020.