Mars Invests in Kind, Third-Largest Maker of Snack Bars

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Nov 29, 2017

Mars, Inc., McLean, Va., known for confectionery brands like M&M’s and Snickers, plans to announce that it will buy a minority stake in Kind, New York, the maker of wildly popular snack bars, according to a report in The New York Times.

Kind says it will remain independent and still be led by founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky. Valued at more than $4 billion, the Kind deal marks a significant valuation for one of the most prominent food brands on store shelves in recent years. The move will likely help both companies develop their product portfolios and allow Kind to expand into new worldwide markets.

"Job No. 1 is taking it global. Job No. 2 is [find out] what other categories either are we already in or we can easily get into that meet the Kind promise?" said Mars CEO Grant Reid.

The minority investment — which could lead to Mars eventually buying all of Kind going forward, based on its history with similar investments — marks the latest effort by a legacy food giant to follow consumers’ healthier eating habits.

Kind has been one of the fastest-growing players in the snack arena, with 2017 sales climbing to $718.9 million, according to Euromonitor. It's now the third-biggest snack bar maker worldwide by market share, the data provider added, behind General Mill’s Nature Valley brand and the Clif Bar line of energy snacks.

As part of the deal, the report notes, Mars likely will boost Kind into a global health food brand. Mars will operate Kind's international operations and make use of its extensive worldwide distribution network to make and market Kind products in countries like China, where Mars has more than 2.3 million distribution points. The two companies also hope to use Kind as a “platform” to introduce other healthy food products in a variety of categories in the next several years.

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