UK plant-based food-and-drinks group Nurture Brands has snapped up local snacks supplier Indie Bay Snacks.

Financial terms were not disclosed. London-based Indie Bay, set up in 2016, markets a range of pretzel products, predominantly to UK customers. Founder Dafna Bonas has joined the Nurture Brands board.

Nurture Brands was formed in 2019 through the merger of two UK firms – Ape Snacks and Emily Crisps. Since then, its deal-making has included a combination with UK plant-based dairy business Rebel Kitchen and the acquisition of snack brand The Primal Pantry.

“Pretzels are a growth category and, in the UK, it is full of dusty, old, own-label brands and relics like Penn State, which is stuck in the 1980s. Indie Bay has a huge opportunity to upgrade this whole category with better taste, whole ingredients and no nasties,” Nurture Brands MD Adam Draper told Just Food.

Draper believes the UK pretzel category is “ripe for premiumisation” even amid the pressure on consumer spending.

“In an economic downturn, the ‘lipstick effect’ is in full force; people look for little pleasures that lift their day and our brand is only a small premium over the mainstream offering, so I do not see why Indie Bay cannot grow and take market share in this category,” he insisted.

Indie Bay, which works with co-manufacturers, sells into UK retailers including Morrisons , Ocado and Amazon. It also supplies markets outside the UK, with Draper eyeing growth from that part of the business.

“Indie Bay has international customers and we will be supercharging this as Nurture Brands has a whole business unit focused on international sales,” he said.

Draper would not be drawn on Indie Bay’s annual sales or profitability.

“I am not prepared to disclose this but, like most small businesses selling impulse-related products, the business did struggle with the two years of lockdowns,” he said. “However, it is a cracking brand made with high-quality ingredients and it tastes fantastic, so it has a very bright future ahead under Nurture Brands.”