Hershey Co has started to share its consumer marketing data with U.S. retailers to help drive sales of chocolate, Chief Executive David West said on Tuesday.

The push comes as Hershey gets ready to battle a Cadbury owned by Kraft Foods Inc , as Kraft's acquisition of the British confectioner is set to close in the coming weeks.

Hershey, which trimmed promotional spending and increased spending on advertising last year, still plans to highlight its products in U.S. stores every month this year. Plans include a Reese's peanut butter cups promotion tied to the NCAA collegiate basketball tournament in March, West told an audience of hundreds at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

Tweaking displays by segmenting different types of candy and adding signs can boost sales in the candy aisle, where the average consumer trip lasts less than a minute and 25 percent of shoppers walk away without buying, West said. Pilot programs with certain stores have already started and Hershey plans to expand the roll-out next year, he added.

Hershey also said it still expects 2010 sales growth of 3 to 5 percent and adjusted earnings per share growth of 6 to 8 percent.

On February 2, the company posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit, raised its dividend and defended its decision to back away from trying to buy rival Cadbury.

Hershey shares gained 78 cents or 2.1 percent to close at $38.38 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl, editing by Matthew Lewis)