By Jane Hoback
Humm Foods, Denver-based maker of fruit and nut nutrition bars LaraBar and LaraBar Jocalat, was acquired by General Mills on June 11. The brands will be part of the Minneapolis food giant's Small Planet Foods, the natural and organic products group that includes Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Lara Merriken, who founded Humm Foods in 2002, will stay on as creative director of the 26-employee company.
"We are excited about this announcement," said Michele Meyer, president of Small Planet Foods, in a statement. "LaraBar is an exceptional brand that is experiencing rapid growth because of the quality and uniqueness of LaraBar products. Lara is clearly the brand champion of LaraBar, and we are thrilled to have her join us as we grow the business together."
Merriken came up with the idea for namesake all-natural raw fruit and nut bars while she was hiking in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Her vision was to create a business centered on delivering an all-natural nutrition bar made of fruit and nuts, with unique flavors and few ingredients. She developed the bars with what she jokingly calls "a sophisticated manufacturing arm...what amounted to be a Cuisinart and a rolling pin. The first batch of bars I produced for retail had to be sealed by hand—all 500 of them."
The business, which started out distributing the bars at Vitamin Cottage and Wild Oats stores, has grown to a category-leading position in the single-serve natural health bar segment. The bars now are sold at Trader Joe's and some conventional grocery chains throughout the U.S.
"I'm pleased to see LaraBar joining strong and successful brands like Muir Glen and Cascadian Farm," Merriken said in a statement. "I see this move as important to the future, and I'm excited to work with Small Planet Foods to continue to grow the LaraBar business."
Humm Foods' makes 14 LaraBar flavors, which contain fruit, nuts and spices and include such flavors as Cherry Pie, Cashew Cookie, Cocoa Mole, Ginger Snap, Lemon Bar, Cinnamon Roll, Key Lime and Pistachio. Humm also makes six Jocalat flavors containing chocolate, fruit and nuts and include chocolate hazelnut, chocolate cherry and chocolate mint.
General Mills' brands include Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley and Old El Paso. The company posted annual net sales of $12.4 billion in fiscal 2007. With its Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen brands, Small Planet Foods holds the No. 1 or No. 2 position in 14 major organic categories in the United States, according to General Mills.