Kind Is Using Big Candy’s Money to Expand Into New ‘Health’ Foods

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Next step could be frozen dinners. Photo: Amanda Cases#648980#51B ED/WireImage

Mars, the world’s largest candymaker, says it’s buying a portion of Kind, the popular, quasi-healthy snack-bar company, in a deal that apparently values Kind at more than $4 billion. The New York Times reports that the minority investment “could lead to Mars eventually buying all of Kind in the future,” because that is a tactic it’s used before. It’s also Mars’s latest effort to put fewer eggs in its floundering Snickers, M&M’s, Twix, and Wrigley gum baskets. (It doubled down on its Petcare brand earlier this year by adding a $7.7 billion vet and doggy-day-care company, officially making that the company’s largest business.)

This may seem like a gamble for “healthy” snack-maker Kind, but in return, it, of course, gets access to Big Candy’s pocketbook. Founder Daniel Lubetzky says he’s been contemplating the investment for five years, and said yes now because it will help them seriously expand the scope of their food-wellness products — a group that presently consists of bars, fruit snacks, and oat clusters. The bars have done ridiculously well, helping make Kind the industry’s third-biggest player after Nature Valley and Clif. But the new Mars-Kind R&D juggernaut is already testing things that aren’t remotely similar to snack bars. “Everything from beverages to frozen foods,” the Times says, as long as it “capture[s] the ethos of health and wellness.”

The vision is to grow Kind into “a global health food brand” that becomes “a seal of approval for any number of different health and wellness food products.” Whatever those are in coming years, they’ll be able to rely on Mars’s giant distribution network. The candy giant has more than 2.3 million retailers in China alone. “Job No. 1 is taking it global,” Mars CEO Grant Reid explains to the Times. “Job No. 2 is what other categories either are we already in or we can easily get into that meet the Kind promise?”

Mars Candy Invests in Kind Bars to Expand Into ‘Health’ Food