Hershey Sells Krave Back to its Founder

May 4, 2020
Jon Sebastianiís Sonoma Brands private equity fund buys jerky brand back five years later for an undisclosed amount.

Krave jerky is being sold by Hershey back to its founder, Jon Sebastiani, after five years. 

Sebastiani, scion of the Sonoma, Calif., wine-making family of that name, created the artisanal jerky brand in 2009. He sold it to a Hershey that was hellbent on diversifying into snacks in 2015 for $219 million.

Despite assurances that it would remain in Sonoma, Hershey moved Krave's operations in 2018 to Austin, Texas, where Amplify Snack Brands was headquartered. Hershey bought Amplify, the maker of SkinnyPop, the year before.

Now Krave is going back to Sonoma and Sebastiani's Sonoma Brands, an emerging brands private equity fund, for an undisclosed amount.

Sebastiani claims to have led "the jerky renaissance and elevating the gas station snack with a culinary twist," due to innovative products and flavors. Hershey, to its credit, provided funding and R&D to grow the brand into a diverse portfolio of protein snacks, including Meat Cuts, Pork Rinds and Plant-Based Jerky, the brand's most recent launch.

Sonoma Brands has developed products and brands such as Smashmallow premium marshmallows, Smashgummy low-sugar gummies and Peckish boiled eggs. As a private equity investor, Sonoma Brands has invested in high-growth consumer brands including: Christina Tosi's Milk Bar, Hum Nutrition vitamins and supplements, Beekeeper's Naturals health solutions, Hu Products plant-based chocolate, Guayaki yerba mate, Versed cruelty free skincare, True Botanicals non-toxic personal care and more.

"I have always had a great relationship with the Hershey Company and watched them grow Krave," said Sebastiani. "From expanding Krave's product offerings to dipping into the plant-based category and increasing worldwide distribution, Krave is in a great spot to come back home to Sonoma where we can continue the brand's fantastic momentum as a category leader."

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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