Kraft Foods Sells Balance Bar After Years of Stagnant Sales

After a number of years of stagnant or declining sales, Balance Bar has been acquired by Brynwood Partners VI L.P. from Kraft Foods for an undisclosed amount. Brynwood Partners plans to base the newly acquired company in the Northeast and has recruited a talent management team to operate the business.

Over the past two to three years, Balance Bar has seen its sales decline, allowing Clif Bar to surpass it as the number two-selling nutrition bar in the United States, according to Nutrition Business Journal estimates. Nestle’s Powerbar remains the top-selling nutrition bar brand with sales of $196 million in 2008. Balance Bar was acquired by Kraft in 2000 for $268 million and saw its sales peak in 2003 at $141 million, according to NBJ research. Since then, year-over-year sales growth has been modest or declining for Balance Bar—2008 sales slid an additional 7% to $127 million.

Still, Brynwood—which was founded in 1984 and specializes in acquiring companies with enterprise values between $25 and $125 million—is getting a top-tier brand with an established consumer base in a growing category. The U.S. nutrition bar market has grown from $360 million in 1996 to more than $2 billion in 2008, according to NBJ estimates. “Balance Bar is a great brand with a very loyal consumer following,” said Hendrik J. Hartong III, senior managing partner of Brynwood VI. “We plan to increase the focus on the brand and expand the business through increased marketing and new product innovation."

Kraft also has a pending offer to acquire food and beverage manufacturer Cadbury Schweppes. NBJ will announce the top ten nutrition industry deals of the year in January’s Industry Awards and Executive Review issue. To order a copy of the issue, subscribe to NBJ or download a free 24-page sample issue go to NBJ’s subscription page.

Related NBJ Links:
Race for Sales Supremacy in Crowded U.S. Nutrition Bar Market Tightens
Kraft to hike prices, White House sees food prices remaining high
Nutrition Bars/Gels/Chews Data Set: 2000 – 2008

Related Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine links:
Market Overview: Kids Snacks

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