Morinaga America, Inc. (MAI), the official distributor of HI-CHEW, has announced that tenured executive Teruhiro (Terry) Kawabe has been promoted from president, CEO of MAI to chief representative for the U.S.A. and president/CEO as of this month. In his new role, Kawabe will oversee and supervise Morinaga America Foods, Inc., the production facility in North Carolina, and Morinaga America, Inc, the U.S. corporate division of the company. With MAI's goal of strategically expanding the U.S. business, Kawabe will look to optimize business management for both companies and drive the strategic expansion of the U.S. market.

Kawabe has worked with Morinaga Group for over 30 years, previously serving as president and CEO of Morinaga Asia Pacific (MAP) in Bangkok, Thailand before his most recent role at MAI. During his tenure with MAP, Kawabe grew the HI-CHEW brand's distribution footprint throughout New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, tripling the sales volume in just three years. He had also introduced HI-CHEW to the mainstream market through distribution expansion in the grocery, food, drug, mass and convenience channels of trade. HI-CHEW sales in the U.S. have grown from $8 million in 2012 to more than $100 million in 2021. With Kawabe at the helm, HI-CHEW sales increased by +30.8% since 2021, the company says. Additionally, he executed two new brand launches within MAI in 2022, including Chargel, a unique energy gel drink made in Japan, and FI-BEING, a better-for-you hard candy option.

"I'm delighted to continue leading MAI on its path towards sustainable growth and to continue expanding the brand's footprint across the U.S. markets," says Kawabe. "I'm looking forward to bringing MAI's vision of solidifying a presence in the wellness space to life, while continuing to deliver delicious, fun, and better-for-you foods to the U.S. consumers."