HERSHEY, Pa., April 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Hershey Company and Godrej Beverages and Foods Ltd. today announced that they have entered into an agreement to form a joint venture to manufacture and distribute confectionery products, snacks and beverages across India.

When completed, the partnership will combine Hershey's brands and product innovation with Godrej's existing food and beverage business and established route-to-market capability. This alliance will provide Hershey with broad distribution access in India. The companies will focus on leveraging Hershey's strong brands to grow the confectionery category and expand the beverage business.

"The partnership with Godrej represents a significant step in Hershey's global growth strategy," said Richard H. Lenny, chairman, president and chief executive officer, The Hershey Company. "India is an important growth market with tremendous long-term potential for our company, and Godrej has a strong track record of success and a deep knowledge of Indian consumers and markets. This agreement provides Hershey with access to Godrej's extensive route-to- market capabilities, extending our reach across India. Hershey and Godrej working together will create a powerful partnership that's relevant to the Indian consumer by delivering superior taste and quality."

"We are pleased to partner with Hershey, which is known to consumers around the world for its high-quality, delicious chocolate and confectionery products," said Adi B. Godrej, chairman of The Godrej Group. "We know that Hershey's outstanding brands are relevant to Indian consumers, and we look forward to developing a broad portfolio with a focus on variety, innovation, quality and value."

The agreement, which is subject to normal closing requirements, will give Hershey a 51 percent ownership stake in a joint venture that has approximately $70 million in annual net sales, primarily in sugar confectionery and beverages. The combination will leverage Godrej's manufacturing and distribution network with Hershey branded product manufactured in-country and distributed to over 1.6 million outlets in India.

From the April 9, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash