SHANGHAI — The Hershey Co. has opened a new Asia Innovation Center in Shanghai. The company said the research and development at the facility will help Hershey develop, test and launch new products for consumers in China and Asia.

“Our new Innovation Center in Shanghai supports our aggressive growth plans in Asia and reflects our global approach to business,” said Michael Wege, senior vice-president, chief growth and marketing officer. “It will enable us to translate our insights and knowledge of consumer tastes and preferences into relevant products. With industry-leading innovation capabilities based in China, we will develop products that expand our portfolio across the region and around the world.”

The company said the 22,000-square-foot facility will provide a “strategic gateway” to the larger Asia market while allowing for close collaboration with local and regional China sales, marketing and operations personnel. They said China is Hershey’s fastest growth market as it moved from No. 7 to No. 3 in chocolate share in five years with overall chocolate share more than quadrupling by 2012.

Hershey also plans to hire primarily from the region as the center grows in its consumer research and testing efforts.