Morinaga America, Inc. (MAI) has appointed Teruhiro (Terry) Kawabe as president and CEO. 

Kawabe will focus on increasing manufacturing and distribution of MAI products, as well as leading the marketing team to increase awareness and purchase intent for MAI brands across North and South American markets. 

Former MAI CEO Masanori Yasunaga will become chairman of the board. In this role, Yasunaga will oversee the MAI business, as well as Morinaga America Foods (MAF), the manufacturer of HI-CHEW.

Kawabe has worked with Morinaga for more than 30 years, previously serving as president and CEO of Morinaga Asia Pacific (MAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. During his tenure with MAP, Kawabe grew the HI-CHEW brand's distribution footprint throughout New Zealand and Australia, tripling the sales volume in just three years. 

Kawabe’s new role is his second working on growing the HI-CHEW brand in the U.S., as he previously held the position of senior VP and chief operating officer from 2012 to 2016. During that time, he introduced HI-CHEW to the mainstream market through distribution expansion in the grocery, food, drug, mass and convenience channels of trade.

"I'm very excited to be back in the United States again working with MAI on this special brand," Kawabe said. "This will be a huge year of growth for our company as we look forward to introducing new products to our HI-CHEW portfolio, as well as launching additional Morinaga brands into the U.S. market. We want to continue to deliver new and unique flavors that we know our consumers will enjoy."