Japanese confectioner Morinaga is to open its first production facility in the US.
The 20-acre plant in Orange County, North Carolina, will open in mid-2015 and produce Moringa’s Hi-Chew Fruit Chews for the United States.
US get Hi on Morinaga’s chews
Morinaga America CEO Masao Hoshino, said: “It is a testament to the strength of our brand that after a few short years in the United States we were able to move forward with this endeavour.”
The Morinaga Americas subsidiary was setup in 2008 in California. The business began selling Hi-Chew on the West Coast and now plans to begin selling in the East Coast, focusing on New York.
Currently imported from Taiwan
Hi-chew is currently produced in Taiwan and imported to the US, but it has seen a rise in popularity in recent years, leading to the decision to begin production in the United States.
Terry Kawabe, chief operating officer for Morinaga said: “With the recent growth of Hi-Chew, beginning production in the United States made sense for us from a logistical standpoint.”
Morinaga sells Hi-Chew in the US in bag and stick formats in a series of fruit flavors such as peach and strawberry.
Snowboarding clash with Mondelez
Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight at market analyst Mintel said: “The company seems to have partnered with the USASA (Snowboard Association) which puts its Hi Chew product squarely into the ‘youth’ area and perhaps in competition with Mondelez's Shaun White Stride gum.”
Mondelez has a marketing partnership with Olympic-winning snowboarder Shawn White for its Stride brand. The extreme sports professional appears in adverts and on packs for Stride Whitemint.
According to Mongelonsky, Hi-Chew has the upperhand over Stride because the Morinaga's product can be swallowed.
"No need to look for a place to throw it out and so much more ecologically sensible - which suits the target age group."
Morinaga posted net sales of JPY 153bn yen ($1.5bn) in fiscal 2012, up 3.9% as well as a 31.3% rise in net income to JPY 1.4bn ($14.3m).