As the No. 21 consumer goods manufacturer, Mondelez International had committed to investing in vegan, paleo-friendly chocolate products as part of its SnackFutures innovation and venture hub. Part of this venture came in April 2019, when Mondelez made its initial investment in Hu, the parent company of Hu Products and Hu Kitchen, and a fast-growing US-based snack company that offers minimally processed, high-quality snacks.
Today, Mondelez has announced its buyout of Hu, acquiring the rest of the well-being brand.
Hu, which comes from the phrase “Get Back to Human” was 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 & president, Mondelez 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. Mondelez International made an initial minority investment in Hu in April 2019 through SnackFutures, its innovation and venture hub dedicated to unlocking emerging snacking opportunities.
Joining other fast-growing premium and well-being snack brands, including Tate’s and Perfect Snacks, 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, Mondelez 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.
Mondelez International’s 2019 minority investment in Hu granted a right of first offer to acquire the company. Following a competitive bid for Hu, Mondelez successfully acquired 100% ownership of the brand. The acquisition closed on January 4, 2021. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.