Mars exec underscores strength of wellness snack portfolio following Trü Frü acquisition
06 Jan 2023 --- As Mars props up its wellness snacking portfolio with another acquisition, the better-for-you snacks category looks set to grow further this year as consumers demand more from healthy indulgence. FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with the confectionery giant after it has signed an agreement to acquire Utah-based whole-fruit snack brand Trü Frü.
“Pending customary regulatory approvals, Trü Frü will join our rapidly growing portfolio of better-for-you brands as a separately operated business unit,” Juan Martin, global president of Health & Wellness at Mars, tells us.
“They will follow in the footsteps of our previous acquisitions in this space - Nature’s Bakery and the Kind brand. This announcement, and our track record to date, is a clear marker: We are perfectly placed to partner with emerging and founder-led brands.”
Although the value of the acquisition hasn’t been revealed, it will likely close in the first quarter of this year.
Bolstering better-for-you snacks
Mars is adding the company to its expanding portfolio of better-for-you snacks, which include nut-based snack producer Kind and fruit snack developers Nature’s Bakery. Trü Frü produces snacks made from fruit immersed in chocolate.
In 2020, Mars acquired Kind North America, which joined with Kind International to create one business working globally, albeit as a distinct and separate business within Mars. After three years of collaboration, this move marked Mars cementing its relationship with Kind, which pursues a commitment of advocating for more nutritionally-dense snacks.
“After three years of partnership, you can see the impact, as together we have grown the healthy snacking category and brought Kind and the Kind Promise to more countries and into new categories,” said Grant Reid, CEO of Mars, at the time.
Kind has committed to adding more than 2 billion servings of nutrient-dense foods to diets by 2025 and exclusively sourcing 100% of its almonds from bee-friendly farms by 2025.
As with Kind and Nature’s Bakery, Trü Frü will continue to operate as a separate business within Mars and will retain its current CEO (and co-founder) Brian Neville.
“Over the years, we have observed Mars’ success in building a global better-for-you snacking platform with both Kind and Nature’s Bakery,” he says.
“When we met the Mars team, we realized they were the right long-term partner for the company. They have the capabilities we need to take our company to the next level.” concludes Neville.
Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking, highlights the start-up’s place within Mars’s expanding wellness range.
“Trü Frü is a perfect complementary fit for our health and wellness portfolio, and our capabilities will help the brand strengthen its operations, broaden distribution and accelerate growth,” he says.
“We want to be the preferred home for emerging and founder-led brands like Trü Frü.”
Wellness snacks surge
The healthy confectionary space continues to expand as consumers seek improved well-being via their food choices, looking for enhanced taste but reduced sugar.
Innova Market Insights forecast “Redefining Value” as its Top Ten Trends for 2023. Consumers are responding to global instability by seeking better value for their money and looking for products that display wellness or sustainability claims.
Aligning with this latter category, Mars unveiled in July 2022 its eco-centric chocolate bar C02OA, in partnership with alt-milk producer Perfect Day.
In a broadening effort to appeal to these rising consumer demands for nutrition and sustainability in products, Mars is leveraging AI and technological solutions to find answers to consumer desires.
Mars announced in April 2022 that it plans a multi-year collaboration with artificial intelligence food research company Pipa to bring health advancements to food and accelerate the discovery of novel, plant-based ingredients.
The confectionery giant will have access to Pipa AI technologies, permitting them to “accelerate the discovery of ingredients compared to the slower traditional ingredient-identification methods of randomized, high-throughput screening,” according to Mars.
Similarly, Mars will utilize the tools of professional services company Accenture to build its cloud platform for manufacturing applications, data and artificial intelligence, targeted waste reduction, water management and total greenhouse gas emissions.
The company’s expansion of its wellness portfolio comes as it also attempts to appeal to younger generations, mainly by deploying eye-catching and sustainable colors during its NPD launches, as it did with its Starburst “Un-Shareable” packaging innovation for its All Pink candies.
By James Davies
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