In return, KIND will provide Mars a “newly formed global health and wellness platform,” it said.
Both companies declined to comment on the value of the transaction, but a source who was familiar with the matter told New York Times that it was valued at more than $4bn.
When Daniel Lubetzky founded KIND in 2004, introducing its first line of whole nut and fruit bar, the company promised to make snacks that are both “wholesome and convenient.”
In addition to expanding flavors over the years, KIND also later tapped into the clusters and fruit bites categories. Most recently, it also introduced a new bar line using protein as its primary nutrition source at the NACS Show in Chicago.
Euromonitor data indicates KIND is the one of the fastest-growing brands in the snacks market with total sales of $718.9m in 2017. It is also the third largest snack bar brand in the world.
The snack bar category is currently worth $6.8bn in the US, and $13.39bn globally, the market data provider said.
Grant Reid, CEO and president of Mars, said the partnership with KIND is built on “mutual admiration and a shared vision for growth”.
“We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to build on the success of KIND’s product portfolio in new markets,” he said. “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 and wellness space.”
Mars’ move also mirrors many large CPG companies who have started exploring the healthy foods market recently by acquiring emerging brands.
For example, Kellogg purchased RXBar for $600m, and General Mills acquired meat snacks maker Epic Provisions.
What is unique about Mars’ partnership with KIND is that both companies are private, and Lubetzky said remaining private would give his company the best opportunity to grow.
For now, KIND will continue to operate independently, led by its majority stakeholders and founder.
Euromonitor’s analyst, Jared Koerten, told ConfectioneryNews, “Mars might have interest in eventually acquiring KIND, but the company's founder has been explicit about wanting to keep the company private so a majority ownership stake in the future is uncertain.”
“As far as implications, this gives KIND more capital to invest in furthering its growth,” he added.
KIND said its relationship with Mars will “deepen” in the future with new opportunities.