- Hershey and Unilever are partnering to introduce seven new frozen treat varieties under the Reese’s brand, the companies said in a statement.
- The Reese’s ice cream tubs, bars, sandwiches and cones are the newest addition to Unilever Ice Cream's expanding portfolio and partnership with Hershey. Candy lovers can also purchase a new line of Heath-branded tubs and pints, and a Hershey spokesperson said the deal also included Jolly Rancher-branded popsicles.
- The collaboration between the two CPG giants is the latest in a string of deals where manufacturers tap into the strengths of other companies to roll out a new product. In this case, Unilever brings its expertise in ice cream while Hershey offers its popular Reese’s brand.
As ice cream makers look for new offerings, bringing shelf-stable candy or cookie with strong sales and instant brand recognition tend to be popular when introduced to the category.
A trip down the ice cream aisle reveals products made with Snickers, M&M, Twix and Kit-Kat, among other brands. Last year, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream teamed up with Mondelēz International’s Oreo brand to introduce a similar line of tubs, bars, cones and sandwiches.
Ice cream remains a hot category. The global ice cream market is forecast to ring up $105 billion annually by 2029, an increase from $72 billion two years ago, according to Fortune Business Insights. Each year, the average American eats about 20 pounds of ice cream, or about four gallons, the International Dairy Foods Association said.
It’s no surprise that Unilever and Hershey are aiming to capture a bigger slice of the market.
Reese’s is the No. 1 candy by sales in the U.S., the two companies said in a press release, citing IRI data. Hershey has already licensed its Reese’s brand to be used in areas beyond confections, such as cookie dough and cereal.
"At Reese's we are always inventing new ways for fans to enjoy our iconic combination of chocolate and peanut butter," Ian Norton, senior director for the Reese’s brand, said in a statement.
In 2020, Hershey had the most licensed product sales of any food company, with items using the company’s brands generating $1.7 billion in sales, a report from by License Global showed. By early 2022, Hershey’s licensing portfolio had swelled to more than 150 agreements, the company said.
The opportunity for a brand such as Reese’s to participate in ice cream allows it to get into another section of the grocery store, further boosting its brand recognition.
Research conducted for Hershey by Numerator in 2019 found when consumers purchased one of the company’s licensed brands, including Reese’s Puffed Cereal or a Hershey baking mix — both collaborations with General Mills — shoppers were on average four times more likely to also have purchased a Reese’s or Hershey’s confectionery item during the same shopping trip.
For Unilever, the Reese’s ice cream products provide an immediate way for some of its items to stand out on shelves by tapping into the brand recognition and bright orange color of Reese’s. The product launch comes as Unilever is reportedly considering the sale of some U.S. ice cream brands that could be valued at as much as $3 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Hershey and Unilever are familiar business partners. Hershey said it started working with Ben & Jerry’s in 1999 —Unilever purchased the brand a year later — with the first product a Ben & Jerry’s Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream. Hershey and Unilever have since worked on numerous packaged ice creams and frozen dairy novelties with other brands, including Whoppers and York.