Is the market for allergen-free foods cooling or saturated? Either way, Mondelez plans to end its lease of a Jeffersonville, Ind., plant it helped fund when it bought Enjoy Life Foods in 2015.
“Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the number and variety of offerings consumers now have to choose from in the ‘free-from’ snacking space, which prompted us to re-evaluate our offerings of our Enjoy Life Foods [ELF] products,” said a spokesperson for ELF.
“While we remain committed to Enjoy Life Foods, we need to ensure that ELF can continue to grow in a way that makes sense for the business. As part of this shift, we have decided to exit our lease for the ELF manufacturing plant we have in Jeffersonville, Indiana, as we refocus and narrow our portfolio. We have shared this news with our employees and will be spending the next few months phasing out production at that site.”
The plant, just outside Louisville, Ky., was 200,000 square feet and employed 105. Although it was leased, Mondelez invested more than $39 million to lease and equip the building with three production lines and distribution capabilities.
Enjoy Life was created in 2001 and at the time of the acquisition was unique in offering more than 40 products in cookies, chocolate, snack bars and savory snacks, all of which were free from the (then) eight most common allergens: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish.
Sesame has since joined that list, and Enjoy Life’s email to us mentioned 14 allergens that the company now avoids.
In its 2016 10K filing with the SEC, Mondelez put the purchase price of Enjoy Life Foods at $81 million.
Perhaps the market is not shrinking, but judging from the annual Natural Products Expo West, there has been a proliferation of small companies specializing in allergen-free products.
“We will continue to make our most-loved consumer-favorite ELF snacks as we transition operations to external manufacturing with capabilities to produce our delicious, high-quality products,” the company statement concluded.