The product is famed for its long-lasting chewy texture and its wide variety of fruit flavours.
The brand has a strong following especially in the US and New Zealand and the company hopes to expand the brand by tapping on its international success.
Terry Kawabe, managing director of Morinaga Asia Pacific Co. said Hi-Chew sales had more than tripled in the US for over five years, and the company hopes to replicate the success in Australia.
The States is now its biggest market, with sales topping JPY5bn (US$46 million) in 2019. It is expected to reach JPY 6.2 billion (US$57 million) in 2020.
In New Zealand, Hi-Chew has been sold at retailers including Pak ‘n Save and New World over the past seven years. It holds a market share of 2.2% in the sugar confectionery category, ahead of popular brands including Skittles, Mentos, and Extra.
Kawabe said: “Hi-Chew is highly accepted by consumers in the USA and New Zealand. Morinaga expects big success in the Australian market as well.”
In particular, “In Australia, gums and jellies do better than other Western markets,” he added.
Kawabe told FoodNavigator-Asia the company would introduce three peg bags in assorted flavours (Original Mix, Tropical Mix, Sweet&Sour), and four stick types in four flavours (Grape, Strawberry, Green apple, Mango). Hi-Chew currently has more than 170 flavours.
The peg bags retail between AU$3-4 (US$2-2.70), while the stick packs cost between AU$1.80-2.50 (US$1.20-1.70).
Kawabe said the Australia plan involved distributing into Asian grocery stores before expanding into supermarkets, and convenience stores nationwide. It hopes to have a presence in major retail chains including Costco, Walmart, Target, Kroger, Albertsons, HEB, Publix, Walgreens, CVS, 7-Eleven, and AM/PM.
Besides US, New Zealand, and Australia, Hi-Chew is available in more than 20 countries including Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
Kawabe said the company was concurrently planning for HI-Chew to enter the UK market. In US, Morinaga is considering rolling out its next brand.