Today, global confectionery and snack leader Mars Inc. announced it was acquiring a minority stake in healthy snack brand KIND. According to The New York Times, the deal values KIND at more than $4 billion and could potentially lead to KIND’s future acquisition by the global company.
KIND will continue to operate independently, led by founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky, who is still the majority shareholder. Lubetzky and the KIND team will remain in the company’s New York City headquarters. As part of the agreement, Mars will take the lead in developing KIND’s business outside of the U.S. and Canada. KIND also plans to use the investment to expand into other categories and further its social impact activities.
“We believe there is tremendous opportunity to build on the success of KIND’s product portfolio in new markets,” Grant Reid, CEO and president of Mars, said in a statement. “As we continue to expand our business and broaden our portfolio to address evolving consumer needs, we’re delighted to partner with a respected leader in the health & wellness space.”
The deal dovetails with Mars’ recent focus on providing consumers with a wider range of healthier options. Last year, it announced plans to remove artificial colors from its food portfolio — which, in the U.S., is primarily confection-based — and at this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo, Mars was one of five major confectionary leaders to highlight a new industry pledge to educate consumers about healthy eating and adjust portion sizes.
A statement released by KIND also noted that the snack brand will serve as the anchor brand for Mars’ newly formed global health and wellness platform, and that KIND remains “fully committed” to its nutrition principles, which have guided the company’s innovation since its founding.
The investment news is one example of larger brands turning to smaller, innovative companies to enhance their health and wellness offerings. In October, Kellogg acquired RX Bar, a Chicago, Illinois- based nutrition bar brand, for $600 million in an effort to appeal to millennial consumers; in May, dairy processor and distributor Dean Foods announced a minority investment in Boulder, Colo.-based Good Karma, a producer of flaxseed-based, dairy-alternative food and beverage products; and in 2016, Tyson bought a five percent stake in Beyond Meat. Similarly, Hershey’s has purchased Krave and General Mills acquired Annie’s.
Emerging brands, like KIND, are able to see rapid success due to their ability to be nimble and adapt to consumer preferences in a retail environment that Ryan Caldbeck, Founder and CEO of CircleUp, thinks is more welcoming to startups than ever before. In a previous interview with NOSH, Caldbeck noted that when KIND first launched its fruit and nut bar, the category was considered a crowded place, but the brand was able to thrive by identifying the holes in product assortment and positioning.
“When KIND bar first came out, they put clear packaging around their product, which, to be frank, was really innovative because it showed [consumers] that this is what real food actually looks like,” Caldbeck told NOSH. “You can see the nuts and they’re whole. You can see the granola and it’s whole, and not nearly as processed as what [consumers had] been eating for the past 20 years. That was the kind of change consumers wanted and now it is a $750 million or billion dollar company.”
For more information on Kind investment, read the full release below:
KIND AND MARS ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP TO BRING HEALTHY SNACKS AND THE KIND PROMISE TO PEOPLE WORLDWIDE
NEW YORK, NY and MCLEAN, VA– kind (KIND) a healthy snacking leader, and mars, incorporated, a family-owned global pet care, confectionery and food business, today announced a strategic partnership whereby Mars will take a minority stake in KIND. As part of the agreement, the two companies will partner to grow KIND’s product offerings and business globally, utilizing each other’s strengths.
The partnership will allow KIND to continue to drive positive change in the food industry while fulfilling – on a worldwide scale – its kind promise, a set of nutrition principles that have guided the company’s innovation since its founding. KIND will provide Mars with a pioneering and trusted brand to anchor a newly formed global health and wellness platform, while Mars will provide KIND with its proven international model to expand into new markets. KIND will continue to operate independently, led by its majority stakeholders, founder Daniel Lubetzky and the KIND team, with its existing headquarters in New York, NY. As part of the agreement, Mars will lead the growth of the business outside the U.S. and Canada, partnering with KIND in accordance with the KIND Promise.
The partnership will enable KIND to accelerate its dual mission to make its healthy and tasty foods available to more people across the globe and make the world a little kinder through meaningful social impact initiatives. It will also enable KIND to expand into new categories.
“When we introduced our first whole nut & fruit bar in 2004, we set out on an ambitious mission to do things differently and challenge false compromises by offering snacks that were healthy and tasty as well as wholesome and convenient. It’s been exciting to see the reach and impact of our mission, and with our partnership with Mars, we’re looking forward to continuing on this journey as we empower more people to make healthy eating decisions across the globe. We remain fully committed to our guiding principles, including our commitment to always use a nutritious food as the first and predominant ingredient in every food product,” said Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and CEO of KIND. “We’re proud to partner with Mars, a family-owned, principles-driven company with a proven track record of holding a long-term view, and look forward to working with them to make this a better world for future generations.”
“This is a partnership built on mutual admiration and a shared vision for growth,” said Grant F. Reid, CEO and President of Mars. “We believe there is tremendous opportunity to build on the success of KIND’s product portfolio in new markets. As we continue to expand our business and broaden our portfolio to address evolving consumer needs, we’re delighted to partner with a respected leader in the health & wellness space.”
Every day millions of people do the KIND thing for their bodies by eating KIND’s snacks. As KIND continues to expand, it will fulfill its KIND Promise by:
- Always using a nutritious food as the first and predominant ingredient in every food product;
- Never using artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols;
- Using as little sugar as possible while achieving great taste;
- Creating foods that are both healthy and tasty;
- Being transparent about everything from ingredients to labeling;
- Crafting foods made with minimally processed, real ingredients; and
- Treating its foods and people with integrity.
The partnership will also empower KIND to scale its social mission and fulfill its vision to use business as a vehicle for social change. In that spirit, Daniel Lubetzky plans to donate $25 million to The KIND Foundation, a separate philanthropic entity that aims to foster kinder and more empathetic communities.
To learn more, visit www.kindsnacks.com/partnership.
BDT & Company and Centerview Partners served as KIND’s financial advisors, and Goodwin Procter LLP acted as KIND’s legal advisor.
Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC served as Mars’ financial advisor, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as Mars’ legal advisor.
Since its founding in 2004, KIND® has been on a mission to make the world a little kinder one snack and one act at a time. KIND was born out of its founder’s desire to create a snack that was healthy and tasty, wholesome and convenient. What began as a line of premium Fruit & Nut bars sparked the creation of an entirely new healthier snacking category. Today, KIND has a family of snacks that offer solutions for a variety of different occasions.
Its recipes include nutrient-dense, simple and premium ingredients like whole nuts, seeds, whole grains, and pieces of fruit. All of its snacks are gluten free and do not contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Since day one, kindness has been at the core of its business. KIND was founded with a social mission, called the KIND Movement, which celebrates and inspires kindness through acts big and small. Today, the Movement is brought to life through both the brand and The KIND Foundation. To learn more about KIND and to join our Movement, visit kindsnacks.com or follow along on social media @kindsnacks.
Mars is a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love. With almost $35 billion in sales, the company is a global business that produces some of the world’s best-loved brands: M&M’s®, SNICKERS®, TWIX®, MILKY WAY®, DOVE®, PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, EXTRA®, ORBIT®, 5™, SKITTLES®, UNCLE BEN’S®, MARS DRINKS and COCOAVIA®. Mars also provides veterinary health services that include BANFIELD® Pet Hospitals, Blue Pearl®, VCA® and Pet Partners™. Headquartered in McLean, VA, Mars operates in more than 80 countries. The Mars Five Principles – Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom – inspire its more than 100,000 Associates to create value for all its partners and deliver growth they are proud of every day.
About the KIND Foundation
The KIND Foundation is a philanthropic entity established by KIND. Its mission, which is to foster kinder and more empathetic communities, is brought to life through a variety of programming meant to celebrate and inspire positive action. The Foundation recently announced a $20 million multi-year initiative called empatico. An online learning tool that connects kids worldwide and helps them develop skills like curiosity and kindness, Empatico endeavors to reach more than one million students by the end of 2020. To learn more, visit kindsnacks.com/foundation.