Chocolate producers Hershey and Barry Callebaut have signed a “supply and innovation partnership”, a deal both companies hope will drive long-term sales.

The agreement, announced late last night (26 April), will see Hershey and Barry Callebaut work together on R&D projects to develop “premium” chocolate and bolster their presence in health and wellness.

“We will work together on research involving unique cocoa flavours and formats to enable superior new product innovation,” said Hershey chairman, president and CEO Richard Lenny.

Under the deal, Barry Callebaut will supply Hershey with at least 80,000 tonnes of chocolate and chocolate products a year.

The agreement will also see Barry Callebaut build a plant to supply chocolate for Hershey’s new site in Mexico. Barry Callebaut will also lease part of a Hershey facility in the US state of Illinois.

Barry Callebaut CEO Patrick De Maeseneire said the deal with Hershey is a “milestone” for the Swiss company.

He said: “The transaction will transform our business in the Americas by doubling our production capacities of chocolate in the region. On a group level, it will increase our volumes by 10% over three years. We have succeeded in firmly establishing ourselves as a partner of choice on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.”

In February, Barry Callebaut signed a similar deal with Nestlé in Europe. Under that deal, Barry Callebaut gained control of two Nestlé sites in Italy and France and agreed to supply Nestlé with chocolate mass for Russia.