New snacking tag team: Mars, Inc. and KIND
Mars’ minority stake in KIND enables international expansion while retaining operational independence for founder Daniel Lubetzky.
Looking to make a world a “KIND”er place, as well as provide the company with a powerful healthy snacking brand, Mars, Inc. announced a strategic partnership with KIND, a New York City-based manufacturer of healthy snack bars whose recipes include whole nuts, seeds, whole grains and pieces of fruit.
According to KIND’s press release, Mars will take a minority stake in the company and work with KIND to grow its product offerings and business globally. It will also fund its foundation, which was established by KIND founder and ceo Daniel Lubetzky, to foster “kinder and more empathetic” communities.
"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,” Lubetzky said in a statement announcing the partnership. “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,” he added. “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."
KIND will continue to operate independently — led by its majority stakeholders Lubetzky and his team — at its existing headquarters in New York City. As part of the agreement, Mars will lead the growth of the business outside the United States and Canada, partnering with KIND in accordance with the KIND Promise, a set of nutritional principles that have guided the company's innovation since its founding.
"This is a partnership built on mutual admiration and a shared vision for growth," said Grant Reid, Mars’ president and ceo. "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 and wellness space."
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, Lubetzky plans to donate $25 million to The KIND Foundation, the company announcement said.
According to the New York Times, the deal values KIND at more than $4 billion. The move by Mars to become a minority investor could lead the confectionery and pet care giant to buying KIND outright in the future.
The same article cites Euromonitor as pegging KIND’s 2017 sales at $718.9 million, making it the third-biggest snack bar maker after General Mill’s Nature Valley brand and the Clif Bar line of energy snacks.
A Financial Times article on the deal reported that KIND had been approached by several buyers. Nonetheless, Mars’ valuation of the company was the highest. In addition, the Mars deal allowed the company to remain private, the London-based newspaper said based on its sources.