Mondelez International has made a second investment under its newly-launched SnackFutures enterprise, this time choosing a player in the free-from category.
The Nasdaq-listed snacking giant has picked Hu Master Holdings, the parent company of Hu Products and Hu Kitchen, in which to take a “minority stake”. Founded in 2012 by Jason Karp and siblings Jordan Brown and Jessica Karp, the US firm manufactures vegan and paleo-friendly chocolate snacks free of refined sugar, soy, dairy and gluten.
Jason is also the chief executive and owner of investment fund Tourbillon Capital Partners.
Mondelez already counts free-from business Enjoy Life Foods as part of its portfolio after buying the US firm in 2015.
SnackFutures was rolled out last November by the Cadbury Creme Egg and Milka owner with one of the objectives being to focus on “venturing with start-up entrepreneurs to seed new businesses”. US-based Uplift Food, a producer of prebiotic “functional foods”, became the debutante to the programme in March.
Tim Cofer, who is heading up SnackFutures and is also the executive vice president and chief growth officer of Mondelez, reiterated the enterprise’s goal to “lead the future of snacking and push the boundaries”.
He added: “Investing in Hu offers our company an opportunity to do exactly that. The Hu brand sits at the convergence of key growing consumer trends. Building on its initial success in chocolate, we believe there’s an exciting opportunity to continue expanding the Hu proposition into a broad health-focused snacking platform across categories. And, with an in-house test kitchen and insights lab, they have a unique ability to quickly test and learn.”
As well as venturing with start-ups, Mondelez’s other key aims of the programme revolve around the “invention of new brands and businesses in key strategic areas” and the “reinvention of small-scale Mondelez brands with large-scale potential”.
Hu has also attracted the interest of other food industry investors. It sold a ”strategic” minority holding to US-based venture capital fund Sonoma Brands last summer, and also lists Dr Mark Hyman, Tim Ferriss, Nelson Peltz, and Dr Peter Attia as investors.
Hu’s co-founder Jordan Brown said: “Hu is our passion, and we’re thrilled to fuel its growth with Mondelez as our partner. Our perpetual goal is to marry great taste with no weird ingredients, and we’re big believers that using these simpler ingredients can make people feel and perform better than they thought possible.”