Snacks giant Hershey has taken a minority stake in fledgling US firm Quinn as part of a Series D funding round.

Founded in 2010 by Kristy Lewis, Boulder, Colorado-based Quinn manufactures microwavable popcorn, pop-at-home kernels and gluten-free pretzels.

The undisclosed financing from Hershey closes off what Quinn said was “additional Series D funding” for which the amounts were not revealed, nor was the actual size of the stake taken by Pennsylvania-based Hershey.

In a statement, Quinn described its mission to “use the very best real ingredients backed with a commitment to supporting agriculture and food transparency”. Its products are stocked in 7,500 stores across the US, including Whole Foods Market and natural foods outlets. 

Quinn plans to use the funds to expand its product offering and distribution.

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Steve Voskuil, Hershey’s finance chief, said: “Quinn shares Hershey’s commitment to sustainable business practices, inclusivity, listening to consumers, and being transparent about how their products are made and what goes into them. Its emergence as a leader in natural foods is impressive, and we look forward to supporting their next phase of growth.”

Lewis, who is Quinn’s CEO, added: “Hershey’s keen eye for category disrupting brands and building them into household names makes them an invaluable partner. After ten years of creating a solid foundation to build from, we are looking forward to the next chapter in our story. As Quinn rapidly expands distribution and sets future strategic goals, timing couldn’t be better.”

In recent years, chocolate, sugar confectionery and gum major Hershey has used M&A to broaden its stable of snacks, buying US nutrition-bar business One Brands last year, snapping up Pirate Brands from B&G Foods in 2018 and, in 2017, acquiring US group Amplify Snack Brands, the owner of SkinnyPop and Paqui tortilla chips.

Hershey, which is due to report its third-quarter financial results next week, generated net sales of US$3.74bn in the first six months of 2020, down 1% on the year, amid pressure on volumes outside the US and price elasticity domestically. First-half operating profit was $766.2m, 9.7% lower, as the company lapped a higher derivative mark-to-market commodity gains. Net income attributable to Hershey dropped 12.5% to $540m.