Mars to buy healthy meal maker Kevin’s Natural Foods for an undisclosed amount

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Dive Brief:

  • Mars signed an agreement to acquire Kevin’s Natural Foods, a high-growth, nutritious meal company, for an undisclosed amount, the company said in a statement.

  • Kevin’s makes chef-inspired sous-vide meals, sides and sauces using whole foods and simple ingredients. The company, which has posted double-digit growth since it was founded in 2019, will operate as a standalone business within Mars Food & Nutrition.

  • The purchase of Kevin’s further expands Mars’ better-for-you portfolio at a company best known for confections such as Twix, M&M’s and Snickers.

Dive Insight:

As Mars aims to build out its portfolio of snacking and healthier offerings increasingly popular with consumers, the purchase of Kevin’s fits squarely into that strategy.

“Kevin’s products are of a very high quality, nutritious, and convenient, without compromising on flavor,” Shaid Shah, global president of Mars Food & Nutrition, said in a statement. “The Kevin’s Natural Foods team has delivered impressive growth since it was founded four years ago, and we look forward to drawing on our experience of nurturing and scaling founder-led brands to help bring their products to even more people.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. Kevin’s was co-founded by Kevin McCray after battling a severe auto-immune disorder for many years. The company was launched following his desire to help others eat healthier. 

The deal values Kevin’s, which has private equity backers who will exit their investment as part of the purchase, at nearly $800 million, according to Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter. Kevin’s started exploring options, which included a sale of the company, earlier this year.

For the startup, the acquisition by Mars will undoubtedly give it deeper financial pockets and food industry expertise it can tap into to help get its products into more stores. The brand is currently available in more than 17,000 retail locations.

Kevin’s will remain a standalone business within Mars Food & Nutrition, according to the CPG food giant. This should enable the young company to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit and authenticity that contributed to its fast growth during the last four years. 

Mars will likely employ a similar strategy in bringing Kevin’s into other categories as it did with Kind, which it purchased in 2020 for an estimated price tag of more than $5 billion. In recent years, Kind, which prioritizes the use of plant-based, nutrient-dense ingredients in its foods, has moved rapidly beyond its core bar into refrigerated items, chocolate, soft granola, cereal bars and frozen bars. 

More deals could be on the way for Mars. Shah told Reuters the Virginia-based company plans to grow its food business through more potential acquisitions in the near term. Mars also owns other food brands such as Ben’s Original, Tasty Bite and Nature’s Bakery, a maker of clean-label, plant-based, nut-free and non-GMO bars it purchased in 2020.

The food space has been one of the few areas where M&A has been active lately. Last month, Unilever entered into an agreement to buy frozen Greek yogurt brand Yasso. And private label CPG manufacturer Flagstone Foods entered the branded products pace with the purchase of Emerald nuts from Campbell Soup in May.



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