Back to Nature Foods Co. LLC, a portfolio company of Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners VI LP, has acquired the SnackWell’s cookie and snack business from Mondel?z Global LLC. The terms and conditions of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Brynwood and Deerfield, Ill.-based Mondel?z formed the Back to Nature joint venture in 2012 through an innovative structure in which Brynwood acquired operating control while Mondel?z retained a minority position in the new company. Since the acquisition, Brynwood has smoothly transitioned the business, ramped up new product introductions and boosted marketing focus.
Nabisco Inc., now a Mondel?z subsidiary, originally introduced SnackWell’s in 1992 as a line of reduced-fat and fat-free cookies and crackers. The brand’s “healthy attributes, loyal consumer base and strong distribution make SnackWell’s a very complementary product line offering to our Back to Nature products,” noted Vincent Fantegrossi, president and CEO of Back to Nature. “SnackWell’s is an iconic brand [and] significantly increases our scale in the important cookie and cracker categories.”
According to Henk Hartong, senior managing partner of Brynwood and nonexecutive chairman of Back to Nature, the deal would “maximize the value of Back to Nature, which will be enhanced by the addition of SnackWell’s.”
The SnackWell’s transaction marks Brynwood’s second transaction with Mondel?z, in addition to two others with Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc., the predecessor company of Mondel?z’s parent, Mondel?z International Inc.
The private equity firm has a long-established track record of reviving smaller brands or businesses that are divested from large corporations, including Zest bar soap and body wash (acquired from Procter & Gamble); Turtles chocolate candy and Flipz chocolate-covered pretzels (acquired from Nestlé USA); TrueNorth nut-clusters and Kretschmer wheat germ (acquired from PepsiCo Inc.); Lightlife soy-based meat alternative products (acquired from ConAgra Foods Inc.); and Balance Bar energy/nutrition bars (acquired from Kraft). Brynwood also holds an investment in DeMet’s Candy Co. and owns Pearson Candy Co.