Retail Evolution

Strengthening the Supply Chain through Innovation and Communication

Josh Veara
Business Unit Leader, Kisses at West Hershey Plant

Weekday or weekend, 2 p.m. or 2 a.m., blizzard or blue skies, our manufacturing team shows up to produce iconic products known all over the world. At the West Hershey plant, my team works 24 hours a day, seven days a week creating, molding, wrapping and bagging millions of Hershey’s Kisses each year, and that number is growing. We do that by showing up. By that, I mean: We’re present. We’re mindful. We’re deliberate about delivering the best possible products to retailers and consumers.  

We show up, every day, to deliver the best. It’s inspiring to have a CEO who shows up, too.   

Over the summer, our CEO showed up, too. Michele Buck visited the plant and saw every step of the manufacturing process, from our fluid dairy milk receiving and chocolate making to where the final product is wrapped and packaged. She saw each of the iconic brands we make here at West Hershey: Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s Bars, Hershey’s Nuggets, Rolo and Hershey’s Syrup. Along the way, she spoke with employees at all levels of the plant, which is the largest in Hershey's manufacturing network. As the CEO, I have no doubt she could have been doing about a million other things that day, but she was here. She was in the moment, thoughtful, engaged and intent on giving us her full focus.


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Michele meeting one of the women on my team at the West Hershey Plant.

We talked about a lot during her visit. Michele had the chance to meet both with employees who go back many generations working for Hershey, as well as team members who had just joined in the last couple of years. Those two groups show up at work each day to share their thoughts—offering up both historic and fresh perspectives—on how we can improve our processes and grow our manufacturing excellence. They’re the ones who are helping to fuel the annual growth of these classic Hershey’s products, and they discussed how they will continue supporting that growth as a new manufacturing line is added in the coming months.

The key for all of it is communication. Communication is imperative for a CEO visiting the plant and talking to workers. Communication is vital my team working together to improve productivity. And communication between supply chain and our commercial partners is necessary to understand and better support the needs of retailers.

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Hershey's Kisses ready to be bagged at our West Hershey Plant.

Lately, our Hershey supply chain team has been focusing on finding ways to deliver innovative solutions for retailers. One way we’ve done that is through an initiative called, “Simple Packaging.” With this, we’ve redesigned display cases to offer convenience, flexibility and adaptability. In the past, packages of Hershey's Kisses would arrive at the retailer in a brown, corrugated case. Employees of the store would open it, remove the product, place it on the shelf and throw the box away. It took work, storage and a lot of waste. With our new “Simple Packaging,” Hershey's Kisses arrive in a colorful, printed case with a tear-away design that can be placed on the shelf or stacked on a palette with several other cases, including products from different brands, like Reese’s, Twizzlers and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. They simply tear away a portion of the case, and it serves as its own display, allowing retailers to be creative in how they use floor space.

If we can do something that decreases the work for our retailers while continuing to deliver products customers love, then we’re doing our job. In the process, we’re driving efficiency —- not just in our own supply chain, but also in our customer’s supply chain.

Michele’s visit served as a reminder that our people are our top asset. Our manufacturing team, at every level, is filled with ideas, knowledge and expertise that helps shape our Hershey's Kisses into the product people know and love. We show up, every day, to deliver the best. It’s inspiring to have a CEO who shows up, too.