By Dave Warner
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Candy is dandy for The Hershey Co., which on Thursday said it is launching a soft caramel creme candy that is its first new brand in the United States in 30 years.
The candy, named Lancaster, will be available in January and come in three flavors - caramel, vanilla and caramel, and vanilla and raspberry - the Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company said.
"You can really sink your teeth into it, but it is not very sticky on your teeth," said Steven Schiller, the company's senior vice president for sweets and refreshment, using the words "soft" and "meaty" to describe the new product.
Its name stems from the company's history. Founder Milton Hershey's original confection company was called the Lancaster Caramel Co.
"The introduction of the Lancaster brand marks a significant milestone for the Hershey Co, as it's the first time the company has launched a new brand that is not a brand extension or acquisition in the last 30 years," the company said in a statement.
Hershey, the biggest chocolate maker in North America, makes popular sweets such as Hershey's Kisses, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy, Good & Plenty, Kit Kat wafers, Milk Duds, Heath toffee bars, Twizzlers and Jolly Rancher hard candy.
Introduction of the new brand marks a company focus on product innovation, said Erin Lash, a Morningstar equities analyst who follows Hershey.
"They are looking to grow," she said. Hershey is aiming to increase sales by nearly 50 percent, to $10 billion annually, by 2017, she said.
The company said it launched the Lancaster brand in China earlier this year.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)