Mondelez buys majority stake in sports nutrition company Grenade


Dive Brief:

  • Mondelez is buying a “significant majority interest” in Grenade, a U.K.-based sports nutrition brand known for its high protein bar Carb Killa, the company said in a statementThe Financial Times reported the deal valued Grenade at $277 million, and Mondelez purchased the stake from private equity firm Lion Capital.
  • The acquisition will give the Oreo cookie maker a deeper presence in broader snacking and fast-growing well-being segments. Grenade, which sells its bars, shakes, spreads and other offerings in the U.K., North America and Asia Pacific, targets its sports nutrition products to people who are physically active.
  • The purchase is the latest in a series of deals for Mondelez and reportedly its first in the U.K. since it bought chocolate maker Cadbury in 2010.

Dive Insight:

Ever since Dirk Van de Put took over as CEO in November 2017, Mondelez has been moving quickly to bulk up its snacking portfolio through deals mainly in the U.S.

Mondelez purchased premium cookie maker Tate’s Bake Shop, which uses sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, for about $500 million in 2018. A year later it acquired a majority stake in Perfect Snacks, the manufacturer of organic, non-GMO, nut butter-based protein bars and bites. Earlier in 2021, it purchased premium chocolate brand Hu.

Smaller deals “allow us to remain what we want to be, which is a great snacking company,” Van de Put told Food Dive last year.

While these snacking deals highlight premium indulgence, the acquisition of Grenade further underscores the company’s commitment to fitness and eating better — trends that have taken on added importance during the pandemic. Mondelez has a presence in bars, such as with its allergy-friendly brand Enjoy Life and Perfect Bar, but Grenade gives it an opportunity to tap into a new category of fitness consumers that may have been harder to reach in the past. 

Grenade’s portfolio includes the Carb Killa bar, which Mondelez said has been the U.K.’s bestselling protein bar since 2016. Mondelez will immediately add to the fold a popular protein-rich brand that has shown it’s more than just a fad. With its global reach, Mondelez will likely use its presence, supply chain and relationship with retailers to expand Grenade’s availability in places such as the U.S. 

The current senior leadership, including co-founder and CEO Alan Barratt, will continue to run the business from its headquarters in the U.K. and will retain a minority equity interest in the company. The deal is expected to close by the end of March. By keeping Barratt at the helm, Mondelez ensures it has a steward of the brand who is not only intimately familiar with the business but has a vested interest in its future success by retaining a stake.

Snacking companies are no stranger to M&A as a way to quickly increase their presence in the nutrition bar segment. Hershey purchased One Brands, the maker of protein bars, for $397 million in 2019. Earlier that same year, Simply Good Foods Company, the manufacturer of bars and other products under the Atkins brand, announced it was buying Quest Nutrition for $1 billion

Mondelez will find itself going up against these deep-pocked competitors and countless upstart brands. Still, even though bar sales have struggled during the pandemic, they are widely expected to rebound as more consumers venture out of the home as conditions improve.