KIND North America, based in New York City, isn’t a broad company. It makes eight lines of snacks, most of them granola bar type products marketed at people who are concerned about health and sustainable foods. The company, founded in 2004, built its market-share through heavy offerings of free samples and magazine marketing blitzes.
With fewer than 500 employees, one would still call KIND a small company, even though it made over $800 million in sales in 2019. So it’s rather a shame to see it now fall under the mega-umbrella of Mars Wrigley.
When Mars Wrigley, one of the five branches of Mars Incorporated, purchased a minority stake in KIND in 2017, KIND was appraised to be worth over $4 billion. This winter, Mars Wrigley will be buying the smaller snack food company whole for approximately $5 billion. While details of the deal so far are scarce, KIND founder Dave Lubetzky has said that it will not change the character of his company.
According to Lubetzky, the new ownership will give KIND the opportunity to expand into new markets with new products.
“That’s where Mars comes in with its supply chain, logistics, warehouse, and distribution capabilities,” he told Business Insider.
Mars Inc., which has over 90 currently-running product lines in everything from candy to cat food (it owns Whiskas and Pedigree), is estimated to be the 6th largest privately held company in the United States. In the past two decades, it has been the target of a great deal of criticism about ingredients sourcing, especially chocolate resulting from slave child labor and/or criminal deforestation.
These are things that KIND has specifically stood against in the past, so it seems that it is a strange choice. The promise that KIND’s character will remain unchanged feels entirely at odds with what we know about Mars Wrigley and its character. An admitted part of Mars’ role after the purchase will involve the supply chain. How can consumers trust that KIND will hold to its old values when its new owner clearly does not?
More details will be released as the details of the purchase are made concrete sometime in December.
Photo by David Tonelson / Shutterstock.com