- Bimbo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Grupo Bimbo, has made a minority investment in Rule Breaker Snacks, a maker of vegan, gluten-free and allergy-friendly treats, the companies said in a statement.
- Rule Breaker, which was founded in 2015, features chickpeas as the first ingredient in its brownies and blondies. The treats are said to be high in protein and fiber. The investment amount, which was not disclosed publicly, marks the first external funding for Rule Breaker Snacks.
- Food allergies affect an estimated one in four consumers, creating a fast-growing and potentially lucrative market for manufacturers who produce these offerings.
Grupo Bimbo, the maker of Entenmann's and Sara Lee baked goods and Thomas' English muffins, is one of the largest baking companies in the world. The Mexico-based firm's portfolio is chock full of buns, breads and doughnuts, so investing in a producer of brownies and other baked goods keeps it close to the category it knows best.
Still, the acquisition of a minority stake in Rule Breaker by Bimbo Ventures immediately gives the 78-year-old company a bigger presence in allergy-friendly foods.
Rule Breaker's primary focus is creating clean-ingredient snacks that are vegan, kosher, non-GMO, free of gluten and nuts — key attributes popular with shoppers today — and free from the top eleven allergens including dairy, eggs, sesame, soy and wheat.
If the company continues to grow quickly and allergy-free foods take off as many expect, Bimbo could decide to invest more in Rule Breaker or acquire the company altogether. It also may incorporate some of the insight it gathers from working with Rule Breaker into its existing offerings.
The allergy-friendly space has been an active category for investments or outright acquisitions. Last month, cookie maker Partake closed a $4.8 million Series A funding round with investors including Lotus Bakeries’ corporate venture fund FF2032.
In 2020, Nestlé purchased Aimmune Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company that aims to reduce children’s allergic reactions to peanuts. In 2018, Nestlé developed its Toll House Simply Delicious Morsels, which are free of eight allergens. The food giant also took a minority stake in Before Brands, the company behind SpoonfulOne, a product said to reduce infant and children's risk of developing allergies to 16 foods.
And in 2015, Mondelez acquired the Enjoy Life brand, a maker of snacks free from 14 common allergens.
For smaller companies such as Rule Breaker, the cash from a large CPG like Grupo Bimbo immediately gives it the financial cushion to grow its business more quickly and potentially expand into other food categories.
While Rule Breaker is available in more than 2,500 retail locations nationwide, online and other specialty channels, Grupo Bimbo has products in many food and convenience stores in the 33 countries where it operates. As Rule Breaker aims to grow and compete with other brands already out on the market, having Grupo Bimbo's reach and connections with retailers should give it a meaningful advantage in the marketplace.