Mondelez Goes All In on Paleolithic Chocolate
Mondelēz is spending $340 million to acquire Hu Master Holdings, a better-for-you confectionary maker.
Hu, which comes from the phrase “Get Back to Human,” is a 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 began as Hu Kitchen in New York City, a high-end restaurant and market focused on foods with simple, real ingredients. The company went on to expand its award-winning vegan and paleo-friendly chocolate bars, which follow a strict set of Ultrasimple ingredient guardrails and sourcing practices. Hu’s chocolate was inspired by the paleo movement and developed by the founding family.
“Hu is a strong strategic complement to our snacking portfolio in North America,” said Glen Walter, EVP and president, Mondelēz International North America. “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 e-commerce 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.”
The brand has become a category leader in premium chocolate in the United States, and one of the fastest-growing confectionery brands in the natural channel. Recently, Hu has broadened its offerings to include premium, grain-free crackers and begun scaling its distribution to grocery stores nationwide.
Mondelēz has been snapping up healthy and premium snack brands for several years. The company acquired high-end cookie maker Tate's Bake Shop for $500 million in 2018, aiming at a brand whose sales had "quadrupled over the past five years." It also bought refrigerated organic protein bar company Perfect Snacks in 2019.
Mondelēz International made an initial minority investment in Hu in April 2019 through SnackFutures, its innovation and venture hub dedicated to unlocking emerging snacking opportunities. Hu will operate as part of the North American Ventures business model and remain focused on its core mission of delivering ultra-high-quality chocolate and snacks with strict ingredient and sourcing guardrails. As such, Mondelēz International will operate Hu 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.
Mondelēz International's portfolio includes brands such as OREO, belVita and LU biscuits; Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone chocolate; Sour Patch Kids candy and Trident gum.