Kawabe will serve as Chief Representative for the USA and President/CEO of MAI
IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Morinaga America, Inc. (MAI), the official distributor of HI-CHEW™, has announced that tenured executive Teruhiro Kawabe (Terry) has been promoted from President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MAI to Chief Representative for the USA and President/CEO as of this month. In his new role, Kawabe will oversee and supervise Morinaga America Foods, Inc., the production facility in North Carolina, and Morinaga America, Inc, the U.S. corporate division of the company. With MAI’s goal of strategically expanding the U.S. business, Kawabe will look to optimize business management for both companies and drive the strategic expansion of the U.S. market.
Kawabe has worked with Morinaga Group for over 30 years, previously serving as President and CEO of Morinaga Asia Pacific (MAP) in Bangkok, Thailand before his most recent role at MAI. During his tenure with MAP, Kawabe grew the HI-CHEW™ brand’s distribution footprint throughout New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, tripling the sales volume in just three years. He had also introduced HI-CHEW™ to the mainstream market through distribution expansion in the grocery, food, drug, mass, and convenience channels of trade. HI-CHEW™ sales in the U.S. have grown from $8 million in 2012 to more than $100 million in 2021. With Kawabe at the helm, HI-CHEW™ sales increased by +30.8% since 2021. Additionally, he executed two new brand launches within MAI in 2022, including Chargel, a unique energy gel drink made in Japan, and FI-BEING, a better-for-you hard candy option.
“I’m delighted to continue leading MAI on its path towards sustainable growth and to continue expanding the brand’s footprint across the U.S. markets,” said Teruhiro Kawabe (Terry), Chief Representative for the USA and President/CEO of Morinaga America, Inc. “I’m looking forward to bringing MAI’s vision of solidifying a presence in the wellness space to life, while continuing to deliver delicious, fun, and better-for-you foods to the U.S. consumers.”
HI-CHEW™ has been steadfast in growing its market share in the U.S. non-chocolate candy category throughout recent years. In light of the U.S. market being a strategic segment of the Morinaga Group’s portfolio, the company plans to continue accelerating the business growth through new flavor innovation and distribution expansion. The brand’s goal is to achieve $250 million in sales by 2030, which is three times the sales HI-CHEW™ reached in 2021. To accomplish this, MAI will bring many of its unique products and technology from Morinaga Group’s HQ in Japan over to the U.S. in the coming years. The company also plans to accelerate the process for new product development through a newly established U.S. research and development lab.
The Morinaga brand has a 120 year history and brand heritage in confectionery, and has been looking to break through in the wellness space. Last year’s launch of Chargel and FI-BEING were the starting point for this transformation. With this nutritional beverage launch and new wellness focus, the company is moving in the right direction, while continuously accomplishing its mission to create healthy foods that can be enjoyed beyond generations. Morinaga America, Inc is the official distributor of HI-CHEW™, the immensely fruity, intensely chewy candy, in the U.S. The company was first established in the U.S. in 2008. After continued growth and expansion, Morinaga America Foods (MAF) opened as a manufacturing plant in Mebane, North Carolina in 2015 to help keep up with the growing demand in the U.S. market. HI-CHEW™ has a passion for flavor innovation and continues to conduct extensive research to develop new products, with exciting new products on the horizon this year.
HI-CHEW™ products are available in sticks, peg bags, and stand-up pouches in a variety of mouthwatering flavors. To learn more about HI-CHEW™, please visit us online at HI-CHEW.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram (@HICHEWUSA) and Twitter (@HICHEW).
About Morinaga America, Inc.:
Established in 2008, Morinaga America, Inc. is the official distributor of HI-CHEW™, Chargel™ and FI-BEING™ in the United States. Morinaga America, Inc. (marketing and sales) and Morinaga America Foods, Inc. (manufacturing) are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Morinaga & Co., Ltd., which began in 1899 as the first, modern candy maker and producer of chocolates in Japan. In 2015, Morinaga America, Inc. opened its first United States manufacturing facility in North Carolina. With over 200 flavors of HI-CHEW™ having debuted in Japan, Morinaga America, Inc. has introduced the United States market to the best of Japanese confectionery.
The history of Morinaga stretches back over a century when company founder Taichiro Morinaga brought his candy-making skills to Japan from America in the 1800s. HI-CHEW™ has long been the best-selling soft candy in Japan and continues to see year-over-year growth throughout other parts of Asia and in the United States. In the United States, HI-CHEW™ is currently offered in sticks, peg bags, and stand-up pouches. The HI-CHEW™ sticks come in a variety of flavors including Strawberry, Green Apple, Mango, Grape, Banana, Kiwi, Açaí, and Sweet & Sour Watermelon. HI-CHEW™ also offers peg bags in the following flavors: Original Mix, Tropical Mix, Superfruit Mix, Sweet & Sour Mix, Soda Pop Mix, Berry Mix, Plus Fruit, Fantasy Mix and new Reduced Sugar. The Stand-Up Pouches are available in Original Mix, Tropical Mix, Sweet and Sour Mix, Fruit Combos, and Infrusions Orchard Mix. HI-CHEW™ is made with concentrated fruit juices and is free of gluten, with no colors from synthetic sources. HI-CHEW™ continues to expand fruity, chewy flavor offerings annually. In 2020, HI-CHEW™ won a Nielsen Design Impact Award for its new Original Mix packaging update that hit shelves in 2019. For more information, visit HI-CHEW.com.