CANADA – The Hershey Company (Hershey), one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, has reorganized its International business unit to support continued growth trajectory in the segment, appointing Herjit Bhalla as the new Vice President for its Canadian business, its biggest international market.

In addition to the appointment, the company said the Europe business, led by Jackson Hitchon, will now operate as a standalone business.

According to Hershey’s, the move will allow the new business to focus on continuing the growth strategy in the UK and establishing Germany as a key market for The Hershey Company.

Both Herjit and Jackson report directly to Rohit Grover, President of International, The Hershey Company. These changes are effective as of January 1, 2023.

Herjit will continue his current leadership of the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA) region, holding the position since Jan 2021.

He has been instrumental in sharpening the strategic focus and building strong organizational capability to deliver robust profitable growth with competitive share gains across all key markets in the region.

As Herjit expands his responsibilities, he will be playing a significant role in powering Hershey Canada’s growth strategy, utilizing his proven credentials as a holistic business and people leader.

For the last five years, he led Hershey India, doubling the India business, centered around innovation, go-to-market transformation, automation, and profitability–while building a strong focus on consumers, customers, and people.

Rohit Grover, President International, The Hershey Company, commented on these changes: “The Hershey Company’s international footprint is growing in exciting ways. Herjit’s appointment as VP of Canada, in addition to his current leadership of the AMEA, speaks to our confidence in his ability to lead our ambitions in these critical markets.”

“He will serve our people and our company with the qualities The Hershey Company is known for — experience, expertise, and leadership that delivers robust, profitable growth and competitive share gains. I am also delighted to recognize the success of the Europe business under Jackson Hitchon and am confident with a focus on key markets in Europe, will allow us to realize our potential in the region.”

Hershey International is growing rapidly, with significant expansion over the last year. The third-quarter 2022 Hershey’s International segment’s operating income (OI) increased 81% versus the same period last year to US$35.4 million.

However, Hershey has recently been sued in the US over claims the firm is selling products containing harmful levels of metal.

The lawsuit brought by Christopher Lazazzaro alleges the firm misled consumers by failing to disclose the quantities of lead and cadmium in three dark chocolate bars.

The lawsuit refers to recent findings by the US magazine Consumer Reports (CR), which tested 28 dark chocolate bars for lead and cadmium, alleging that 23 of them, including chocolate from Hershey, Godiva, and Lindt, contained “comparatively higher levels” of the metals.

In particular, Hershey’s Special Dark bar and Lily’s 70% bar were high in lead, while Lily’s 85% bar was high in lead and cadmium.

“For 23 of the bars, eating just an ounce (28g) a day would put an adult over a level that public health authorities and CR’s experts say may be harmful to at least one of those heavy metals,” it claimed.

Nutritionist Sheeba Majmudar told the BBC that currently there are no food laws stating that all food batches need to be tested – until they make you sick.

She added that while no level of toxins is safe, it is always the ‘buyer beware’ slogan that comes to mind.

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