The acquisition, reportedly valued at £200 million although not officially confirmed, is Mondelēz’ first UK acquisition since purchasing Cadbury in 2010.
Founded in 2010, husband and wife team Alan and Juliet Barratt launched Grenade with the mission to create an iconic weight-loss product - the Thermo Detonator - and become the biggest sports nutrition brand which appealed to everyone from the high-performance athletes, to the weekend warriors, to elite military.
They did just that and the brand is now available in over 80 countries, and its best-selling Carb Killa protein bars
leading the brigade since their launch in 2015 thanks in part to their wide distribution network across supermarkets, coffee shops, garages, airports, and more.
"When Jules and I founded Grenade from our spare bedroom with a budget of $700, we dreamt of building an iconic brand available globally," said Alan Barratt, co-founder and CEO of Grenade. "This partnership with Mondelēz International gives us access to enormous resource and capability to help make those aspirations a reality and I couldn't be more excited about our future growth and continued innovation."
A year after the bars exploded onto the market, the brand launched its Carb Killa shakes, following the winning formula of high protein, low carbs and ultimate indulgence. In more recent years, the company has further expanded the Carb Killa range for the 'everyday' audience with its indulgent protein shakes and biscuits.
The formula is one that Mondelēz is clearly eager to tap into. In the firm's growth strategy, it notes how that the lines between snacks and meals are blurring and consumers are searching for healthy yet indulgent products that can provide for either occasion.
"Grenade's great-tasting, on-trend products are a great platform for Mondelēz International in the UK market and beyond," said Dirk Van de Put, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Mondelēz International. "This is another exciting opportunity to deliver on our strategy to be a global leader in broader snacking, including in the important area of well-being."
Mondelēz says it plans to operate Grenade separately to "nurture its entrepreneurial spirit and maintain the authenticity of the brand", while providing resources, support and international scale to help accelerate growth.
The current senior leadership, including Alan Barratt, will continue to run the business from its headquarters in the UK and will retain a minority equity interest in the company. The deal is expected to close by the end of March.
Industry expert view
The acquisition is a perfect example of the dilemma described previously by Nick Morgan, owner of the sports nutrition consultancy Nutrition Integrated Ltd (which tracks and analysis the protein bar market) around the principals of sports nutrition going mainstream.
He says this news highlights the importance of creating a strong brand and suggests this news will be an inspiration to others in the industry.
"It's a great piece of news for the industry, especially off the back of a period where bar sales have struggled due to the pandemic, with lockdowns affecting availability of products and on-the-go sales taking a knock. This timing just emphasises the continuing relevance of the protein bar category in spite of the past 12 months.
"The acquisition itself will possibly be unsurprising for those within the market. Grenade have been considered the leaders in the protein bar category for some time and it's success comes from the fact it is a very strong brand.
"I think the acquisition really exemplifies what can be done by a sports nutrition brand with the right marketing and communications activities. They've done a lot of work to make their brand connect with the mainstream and really they haven't been perceived as a 'sport nutrition' brand for some time, but a healthy confectionery brand with their Carb Killa bars really driving the brand to become the international best-seller that it is today."
He adds that, from Mondelēz' point of view, it shows what a high priority the firm puts on healthy snacking products which still provide indulgence.
This can be clearly seen from the firm's regular communication about 'mindful' and healthy snacking. The firm even launched CoLab last year - a start-up engagement program for early-stage 'wellbeing' focused snack brands as part of its SnackFutures innovation and venture hub.
The SnackFutures team has created and launched five wellbeing brands in the US and Europe including CaPao, Dirt Kitchen Snacks, Millie Gram, NoCoé, and Ruckus and Co, and made minority investments in Uplift Food, Torr and HU.