Mondelēz made a minority investment in Hu in 2019 through its innovations arm, SnackFutures. As part of the deal, it had a right of first offer to acquire the U.S. company.
Hu comes from the phrase “Get Back to Human” and encapsulates the ethos behind the purpose-led lifestyle brand with a devoted fan base. Founded in 2012 as a family business by Jason H. Karp and siblings Jordan Brown and Jessica (Brown) Karp, Hu started out as Hu Kitchen, a high-end restaurant and market in New York City that focused on foods with simple, real ingredients. The company went on to expand its award-winning vegan and paleo-friendly chocolate bars, becoming a category leader in premium chocolate in the United States, and, according to a press release, “one of the fastest-growing confectionery brands in the natural channel.”
Recently, Hu broadened its offerings to include premium, grain-free crackers and begun scaling its distribution across the U.S.
“Hu is a strong strategic complement to our snacking portfolio in North America,” Glen Walter, EVP & president, Mondelēz International North America, said in a statement. “This well-being brand platform provides further growth opportunities in chocolate, cross-category potential in crackers, as well as meaningful opportunities to expand distribution including in eCommerce and premium conventional retail. We’ve been very impressed with the Hu management team as a minority investor and look forward to working with Jordan Brown and Mark Ramadan and the rest of the Hu team to provide support and resources for the brand’s next chapter of growth.”
“Jordan, Jessica and I started Hu Kitchen because there was a need to trust and understand every ingredient in our food,” said Karp. “Eight years ago, we felt there was a need for delicious food that could change how you feel and compliment a healthier lifestyle. Mondelēz International has been our minority partner for almost two years, and we are excited to fully join their family of brands because we believe their resources, strengths and progressive vision can help us accelerate positive change within snacking and grow the Hu platform in a bigger and broader way.”
Joining other fast-growing premium and well-being snack brands, including Tate’s and Perfect Snacks, Hu will be part of the North American Ventures business model, but Mondelēz will operate is as a “separate business to nurture its entrepreneurial spirit and maintain the authenticity of the brand and culture, while providing resources to help accelerate Hu’s growth. Hu will continue to produce all products at current manufacturing facilities.”
Hu senior leadership will receive a contingent payment based on future performance of the company. In 2019, Hu hired experienced entrepreneur Mark Ramadan, co-founder and former CEO of Sir Kensington’s, as CEO. During Ramadan’s tenure he has focused on enhancing the purpose and values of the company and set the pathway for continued sales growth.
The acquisition closed on January 4, 2021. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Mondelēz International operates in more than 150 countries around the world and its portfolio includes, OREO, belVita and LU biscuits; Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone chocolate; Sour Patch Kids candy and Trident gum.