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Mondelēz International acquires ‘well-being’ snacking company

Hu_ChocolateMondelēz International has acquired Hu Master Holdings, the parent company of Hu Products, which offers high-quality snacks, such as vegan chocolate bars, made from simple ingredients.

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.

Seasonal Confectionery Purchase Decisions Report: National Confectionery Association

Pandemic reshapes shopping for seasonal candy

Seasonal Confectionery Purchase Decisions Report: National Confectionery Association

Seasonal Confectionery Purchase Decisions Report: National Confectioners Association

The current global pandemic uprooted consumers’ shopping habits and patterns, but amid all the changes, confectionery’s role remained the same: consumers see confectionery treating as integral to a happy, balanced lifestyle during regular, holiday and COVID-19 times.

According to Seasonal Confectionery Purchase Decisions: 2020, published the the U.S.-based National Confectioners Association (NCA), 84% of consumers see seasonal confectionery as a fun part of special celebrations and 78% say sharing and gifting seasonal confectionery is a great tradition. Additionally, 82% of consumers agree that it is okay to enjoy seasonal confectionery during holidays and special occasions.

“Seasonal and holiday celebrations have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, reshaping shoppers’ engagement with seasonal confectionery,” NCA President and CEO John Downs told CSNC’s U.S. sister publication, Convenience Store News. “The insights unveiled in this report will help the confectionery industry address new holiday celebrations and traditions through merchandising and marketing that reflects these unusual times.”

Key highlights from the report include:

  • Supermarkets are the most commonly shopped channel for seasonal confectionery, followed by supercentres. However, amid the pandemic, e-commerce leaped years ahead in engagement, with online candy sales up 100.3% during the 26 weeks ending Sept. 6. Online ordering with the local grocery store for delivery or pickup overtook online retailers as the biggest online channel for confectionery.
  • Shoppers say the seasonal aisle is fun and inspiring (77%) and they like browsing for new items when buying seasonal confectionery (76%).
  • Shoppers like to celebrate the seasons in style: 87% prefer seasonal confectionery featuring packaging, shapes, colours, flavours or characters that reflect the season.
  • The pandemic has resulted in financial pressure for many and more are prioritizing promotions and price in their decisions. Seasonal confectionery already enjoyed very high promotional efficiencies pre-pandemic.
  • Purchases are influenced by shoppers’ own preferences (59 %), price (43%) and sales promotions (40%).
  • Parents see confectionery as integral to seasonal celebrations and 90%  discuss the importance of balance and treating with their children. At the same time, nine in 10 parents monitor their kids’ candy consumption, with limiting consumption to a few pieces a day until it runs out being the most popular system as it relates to the seasonal haul.

An executive summary of the report is available here.


Premium-style chocolate is helping give confectionery chocolate sales a boost

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Nielsen data shows confectionery chocolate is a nearly $1.84-billion business in Canada—growing 4% over last year. Analysts partly attribute the recent growth in sales to the rise of indulgent, premium-style chocolate. From organic and fair trade to vegan and keto-friendly, here are just a few of the chocolate innovations to hit the marketplace.

brooklyn-born-chocolateBROOKLYN BORN CHOCOLATE
Initially a private-label chocolate manufacturer, Brooklyn Born Chocolate now has its own branded premium product line, which includes a new Keto Bar line. These keto-friendly bars are low in carbs, so followers of the keto diet can indulge in them without guilt. Flavours in the Keto Bar lineup include Coconut Milk, Himalayan Sea Salt, Lemon Coffee, Mint Cacao Nibs, and Salted Almonds.

Theobroma’s new milk chocolate sticks come in three varieties: Organic Milk Chocolate with Quinoa Crisp and Coconut; Organic Milk Chocolate with Quinoa Crisp and Moka; and Organic Milk Chocolate with Quinoa Crisp and Salted Caramel. All of the Quebec company’s premium chocolate confections are fair trade and organic, as well as gluten free and GMO free.

Quebec-based Galerie au Chocolat has three new bars in its fair trade line: Dark Chocolate (72%) with Coconut; Milk Chocolate (36%) with Almond and Sea Salt; and Milk Chocolate (36%) Caramel Pecan Crunch. Galerie au Chocolat’s fair trade line features fine Belgian chocolate in simple, no-nonsense packaging that reflects the simplicity of the product: the company doesn’t add oils, emulsifiers, preservatives, flavours or anything artificial.

Camino’s Coconut Milk Dark Chocolate Bar is a rich and creamy bar that contains no dairy milk or cane sugar; instead, it uses coconut milk and coconut sugar to create this milky smooth, indulgent treat. The Ottawa-based brand’s new vegan-friendly bar is 55% cacao, and is certified fair trade, organic, kosher, and gluten free.

Originally posted at Canadian Grocer. 

Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 2.47.08 PM

Chocolate satisfies with a balance of trend and tradition


Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 2.47.08 PMCanadians’ love for chocolate is alive and well, as they visit convenience stores for old favourites, as well as new flavours and sizes to satisfy cravings for the “food of the gods.”

The latest figures from Nielsen Canada show that sales of chocolate in the convenience and gas channel in Canada for the year ended March 2, 2019 grew by 2% to $178 million. Sugarless chocolate led the growth (up 35%), followed by seasonal chocolate products (6%), and every day/sugared chocolate products (2%). Only every day seasonal chocolate showed a decline in sales (3%).

There are several new trends emerging in the chocolate category. Joel Gregoire, associate director of Mintel Canada Food and Drink Reports, says there’s been an evolution in chocolate confectionary with the introduction of larger-sized tablet chocolate bars, thins and more seasonal chocolates. 

“This can be interpreted as being a shift in the formats that Canadians are turning to for their chocolate fix and points to the importance of chocolate confections that are sold not just at the checkout line, but in other areas of the store,” he says, 

In addition, chocolate manufacturers can learn from the makers of alcohol beverages, who are infusing products with exotic new flavours and highlighting interesting twists, such as cask-aged bourbon and strawberry champagne. 

Ruby chocolate, for instance, is taking the industry’s colour palette beyond white, milk and dark. Barry Callebaut introduced ruby chocolate in September 2017, calling it “the biggest innovation in 80 years.” Artisan chocolate makers quickly embraced the flavour and now confectionery manufacturers are giving old favourites a new spin.

“The new ruby Kit Kat, made from the natural ruby cocoa bean, has a characteristic pink hue and unique flavour that consumers are raving about,” says Ryan Saunders, vice-president marketing, confectionary at Nestlé Canada.

Flavour infusion is also the secret to creating popular better-for-you products. “While white chocolate will always be an indulgence, there are ways to infuse elements of nutrition through superfood ingredients, such as chia seeds, matcha, honey lavender, turmeric, orange chunks and coconut into dark chocolate, which now has a well-established reputation for offering added antioxidants,” says Gregoire. 

In addition, convenience retailers have an opportunity to drive sales and satisfy customers’ desire for new experiences by mixing chocolate delights with other snacks, such as pretzels, popcorn and nuts.

“We know that indulgence is a key driver of food selection in the evening for a snack in front of the television, for example,” says Gregoire, adding the picture is more complex in the afternoon when people are looking for a boost. Convenience stores can answer all needs by offering snack kits with chocolate, as well as a solid mix of new format and entrenched brands “to satisfy conflicting wants of convenience, portability and energy.”

The chocolate category is abuzz with new tastes and trends, however old favourites still reign.Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 2.46.52 PM

“While there are always fun and interesting new products in the category, nothing comes close to the old classics,” Saunders says. “While we sometimes get excited about what is new, if you don’t have the top pr
oducts within arms’ reach you’ll lose sales opportunities.  Retailers can maxmize sales and profit by continually understanding and responding to local and macro trends as they change and evolve.”


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