Hershey Co. on Sept. 18 formally opened its new hometown plant, a $300 million investment it calls “the world’s most technologically advanced chocolate making facility” and the company’s biggest capital investment in decades.
“The new facility features proprietary, state-of-the-art technology never before used in the manufacture of confectionery,” company statements said. “The new technology was developed specifically for the plant, including highly automated, large-scale Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate operations.” The plant also will make Hershey Bars, Rolo candies and chocolate syrup.
It’s actually a 340,000-sq.-ft. expansion of what the company has called its West Hershey plant, located less than two miles from the company’s original chocolate factory opened in 1905 by Milton Hershey. It represents “Hershey’s strategy to grow its business globally while remaining true to its heritage and values, grounded in more than a century of chocolate making and confectionery innovation in Hershey, Pa.,” the company said.
Information technology systems include automated, real-time diagnostics systems to keep operations running smoothly 24 hours a day. A fresh almond roasting plant is onsite. It’s capable of producing more than 70 million Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates per day.
The plant’s workforce includes about 700 employees who transitioned from the original Hershey plant on East Chocolate Ave. – the company’s oldest facility, which ran continuously from 1905 until its retirement in April 2012.
Work began in September 2010 and was completed on schedule earlier this year. The building expansion was a “Zero Waste to Landfill” (ZWL) construction project and the plant will continue to operate as a ZWL plant.