Snack-maker Kind is branching out even further from its signature nut bars.
By midyear, frozen and refrigerated bars, chocolate bark and snack mixes from Kind will be in grocery stores. The company already sells fruit bites and grain clusters in addition to granola and nut bars.
Kind's expansion comes as consumers turn their focus to the perimeter of grocery stores, rather than the center aisles, which usually hold more processed foods. Those changing tastes have hurt traditional food companies like General Mills and Campbell Soup, but Kind seems to have held onto consumer interest by marketing its products as healthy and nutritious. Because the company is privately held, it does not disclose financial results.
Kind built itself into the fourth-largest U.S. snack manufacturer by positioning its nut bars as a healthier option to traditional granola or energy bars. Euromonitor estimates that it held 10.4% of the market share for snack bars in 2019. The first ingredient listed on the packaging of the company's products must be nutrient dense, in accordance with the "Kind promise."
That's also true for its four new lines, which resulted from an acquisition, a joint venture and internal innovation.
In October, Kind announced plans to Creative Snacks, a North Carolina-based manufacturer to become its first acquisition. Creative Snacks' portfolio includes granola, pretzels and trail mixes.
Thanks to the Creative Snacks deal, Kind developed its new grain-free snack mixes in a matter of weeks, making only slight tweaks to the acquired company's own version of the product.
Daniel Lubetzky, Kind's founder and executive chairman, said in an interview that Kind is actively looking for more acquisitions, which will have to fit with Kind's ethos.
When it came to making chocolate bark and frozen bars, Kind benefited from the expertise of its joint venture partner, Mars. The privately held candy giant, which makes Snickers and Skittles, bought a stake in Kind in 2017.
Kind's frozen bars riff off Snickers ice cream bars and working with Mars helped accelerate the launch, according to Lubetzky. Kind's version uses a creamy nut base in place of ice cream, to remain true to its promise of sticking with nutrient-dense foods and to keep the sugar count low.
The company unveiled the frozen treat last year when it began selling the bars exclusively through Walmart.
Kind's chocolate bark was in the works before it began working with Mars, but the chocolate giant helped Kind "execute better and faster," according to Lubetzky.
While its move into the chocolate aisle might surprise some familiar with Kind's brand identity, the company isn't straying too far from its healthy roots. Kind Bark includes nuts and is made with 55% cacao dark chocolate.
Like the frozen bars, Kind initially tested the chocolate bark through a small roll-out, this time with natural food grocery stores.
The only new product that came entirely from Kind's own team is the refrigerated bars, which tap into the refrigerated protein bar trend. It took Kind about 2½ years to launch the product from its original conception, Lubetzky said. The bars use either peanut or almond butter as their base and come in four flavors.
The nut butter bars will pit Kind against Perfect Snacks, which pioneered the refrigerated protein bar trend with its Perfect Bars and generated about $70 million in net sales in 2018. Last year, Oreo maker Mondelez snapped up a majority stake in the company.