US confectionery major Mondelez International has confirmed that it is to acquire local better-for-you chocolate and snacks business Hu Master Holdings.

Following earlier speculation that a deal was about to happen, the Cadbury and Oreo brands owner confirmed in a statement today (5 January) it had acquired Albany, New York-based Hu.

The transaction, for an undisclosed sum, follows the April 2019 minority investment Mondelez made in the firm through its SnackFutures innovation hub. That earlier investment granted Mondelez a right of first offer to acquire the company. 

Mondelez said the deal announced today “provides cross-category growth opportunities in snacking”.

Hu, which comes from the phrase “Get Back to Human”, is a “purpose-led lifestyle brand”.

Founded in 2012 by Jason 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 into producing vegan and paleo-friendly chocolate bars and has more recently moved into snacks with grain-free cracker products.

Glen Walter, president of Mondelez’s business in North America, said: “Hu is a strong strategic complement to our snacking portfolio in 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.”

Ramadan, co-founder and former CEO of US condiments business Sir Kensington’s – itself sold to Unilever in 2018 – was hired by Hu in 2019.

Hu co-founder and chairman Jason Karp said: “Mondelez International has been our minority partner for almost two years, and we are excited to fully join their family of brands because we believe their resources, strengths and progressive vision can help us accelerate positive change within snacking and grow the Hu platform in a bigger and broader way.”

The company will operate as part of the Mondelez North American Ventures business model. As such, Mondelez 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, Mondelez said. Asked for further information on Hu’s manufacturing, a statement read: “Hu’s products are unique in the market and so is our proprietary production and manufacturing process.”