New York, NY —Seeking to accelerate its growth outside the U.S., snack bar maker KIND LLC, is taking a minority stake from candymaker Mars Inc., which in turn is seeking to grow its share of the better-for-you treat market as consumers demand healthier snacks with more natural ingredients.

KIND, which launched its on-the-go snack business in 2004, has products in about 190,000 stores and more than $718.9 million in annual sales, according to Euromonitor. Mars has about  $35 billion in annual revenue and its overseas presence includes 2.3 million locations in China alone, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The primary objective is to grow our core business globally,” Lubetzky toldThe Wall Street Journal. “We need to move fast.”

Lubetzky said the deal doesn’t preclude KIND from entering into partnerships with other companies.  “In 2018," he said. “we’re going to be acquiring companies and entering new markets.”

According toThe New York Times Deal Book, the deal values KIND at $4 billion. It is the third-biggest snack bar maker worldwide by market share, behind General Mills’ Nature Valley and the Clif Bar line.

“Since 2004 when we introduced the first KIND Fruit & Nut Bar, we’ve been committed to challenging conventional wisdom," Lubetzky said in an email toWholeFoods.That original bar proved that health and taste don’t have to be mutually exclusive – a belief that remains central to everything we do today. Our worldwide partnership with Mars will enable us to reach more consumers.”

On Friday, KIND begins shipping to retailers three new product lines: KIND Fruit & Chocolate bars, KIND Protein with 12g of protein per bar and KIND Healthy Grains Clusters Almond Butter.

KIND Chocolate BananaRead more about the founding of KINDfrom a presentation Lubetzky gave in 2016 at Columbia University.

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 11/29/17