Rebekah Schouten headshotHERSHEY, PA. — From launching its largest-ever holiday lineup to entering into new product partnerships with Danone, Kraft Heinz, Mondelez and General Mills, The Hershey Co. has been busy with innovation in 2021.

The year also saw Hershey expanding in the better-for-you segment with the debut of an organic portfolio, the repositioning of its sugar-free products as a Zero Sugar line and the acquisition of Lily’s.

“We’re primarily focused on sweet indulgence, though that is growing and evolving over time,” said Michele G. Buck, chief executive officer at Hershey, during a Feb. 17 presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York virtual conference. “One of the areas where we have opportunity is in better-for-you, and within that, one space is within our own category. If we look at many other indulgent categories in the marketplace, many of them have a greater proportion of better-for-you items.”

Hershey took its Reese’s brand into the organic market in February with the release of Organic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and in March, the company unveiled organic Hershey’s chocolate bars and miniatures. The confections are made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa and are USDA organic and Non-GMO Project verified.

“While the organic chocolate market is small, it is growing rapidly, and we are excited to bring consumers great tasting organic versions of Reese’s and Hershey’s through this targeted launch,” Ms. Buck said.

In February, Hershey unveiled plans to reposition its sugar-free products as Zero Sugar. The new Zero Sugar line includes Reese’s peanut butter cups, Hershey’s milk chocolate bars, Hershey’s special dark chocolate bars, Hershey’s caramel filled chocolate bars, York peppermint patties, Twizzlers and Jolly Rancher hard candies.

“We’re re-launching our sugar-free platform, which was launched many years ago as a product for diabetics, as zero-sugar,” Ms. Buck said. “The bulk of the relaunch is about repositioning sugar-free in a way that is more contemporary. You look at beverages and zero sugar and lots of other categories. I mean those products are just positioned entirely differently in a much more contemporary way. And that’s really our goal.”

On June 25, Hershey completed its acquisition of Lily's, a maker of low-sugar confectionery, for $425 million.

“Lily’s is a great addition to Hershey’s growing portfolio of better-for-you snacking brands, and we are excited to add this high-growth, leading better-for-you brand and to get to work with its talented and innovative team," said Chuck Raup, president of US at Hershey. “Lily’s popular low-sugar products are a great strategic fit with our multi-pronged better-for-you snacking strategy and will perfectly complement our existing iconic Hershey's better-for-you offerings.”

View slideshow of new products from Hershey.