Mars Wrigley silent on KIND Snacks acquisition possibility

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Mars acquired a minority stake from KIND Snacks last year. Photo: Mars Wrigley
Mars acquired a minority stake from KIND Snacks last year. Photo: Mars Wrigley
Snack industry experts have long suspected Mars Wrigley’s acquiring a minority stake from KIND Snacks last year was its first move to eventually swallow one of the trendiest snack bar makers in the US.

ConfectioneryNews caught up with the marketing director of Mars Wrigley’s snacks division, Eric Epstein, before he heads for the Expo West in Anaheim, California, next month.

Epstein, however, did not comment if Mars will take over KIND Snacks in the future. Yet, he said the partnership would allow KIND to continue to drive “positive change in the food industry while fulfilling – on a worldwide scale – its 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,”​ he added.

But which brands will benefit from the health and wellness platform?

Even though the majority of Mars’ portfolio plays in the confectionery category, which many CPG manufacturers are worried that the indulgent image may drive more health-focused consumers away, some of its snack brands strike certain similarities with KIND in terms of product formats, especially goodnessKNOWS and Munch – both are nuts-added snack bars.

Epstein told ConfectioneryNews the goodnessKNOWS brand has expanded beyond the traditional fruit and nut line, adding six new flavors to the line-up: peanut butter crunch, nut & sea salt with almonds and peanuts, maple cinnamon & almond, honey almond bourbon vanilla, mocha & almond, and oats raisins & almond.

“These savory new flavor combinations (which will be showcased at Expo West) are the perfect balance of sweet and salty, with 150 calories per single pack,”​ he said.

Mars did not say if goodnessKNOWS’ formulations will be improved in the future as a result of its support of KIND, but the company has previously invested in the brand to expand its production multiple times, according to Epstein.

“In 2015, we announced a multi-million dollar investment in our Albany Georgia site, creating 20 new jobs, to support the introduction of goodnessKNOWS across the US,”​ he said.

Additionally, Mars’ $900m investment​ in its US supply chain initiated a year ago will also help grow the brand.

Growing snacks category

Mars declined to share its snacks portfolio’s sales performance as a private company, but among its total 32 confectionery brands, only few of them are pure snack players such as Combos, Balisto (whole wheat biscuits) in addition to goodnessKNOWS.

“The snacking category overall is continuing to see growth, and it will continue to drive the consumer demand for options and we’re focused on innovating to meet the different needs of busy, on-the-go consumers,”​ said Epstein.

“Mars Wrigley’s snack brands including goodnessKNOWS and Combos also participate in growing category segments such as better-for-you snack bars and salty snacks,”​ he added. 

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