- Mars will acquire a majority stake in Foodspring, a German company selling protein shakes, snacks, bars, beverages and supplements directly to consumers. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- While Foodspring will become part of the company's health foods segment Mars Edge, it will remain a standalone business and continue to be headquartered in Berlin. Jean-Christophe Flatin, president of Mars Edge, said in a release that the company plans to build on Foodspring's digital, branding and food innovation expertise.
- Founded in 2013, Foodspring is now one of the largest and fastest-growing targeted nutrition businesses in Europe, Mars said. The premium brand offers trendy and data-driven products to consumers interested in sports performance and healthy living. It also has a nutrition and fitness platform to personalize consumer experiences.
Mars, the maker of M&Ms, Twix and Snickers, is looking to boost its profile in targeted nutrition, so acquiring a majority stake in Foodspring makes sense. The company founded Mars Edge in 2017 with the goal of enhancing health and wellness through targeted nutrition. This is the segment's first investment, according to Forbes.
Foodspring's product line and its online platform could help Mars expand both its presence in personalized nutrition and its geographical reach. Foodspring currently does business in 12 countries and has an international team of 130 sales associates, Mars said.
Foodspring's focus on shakes, bars and snacks taps into the growing health and wellness trend as well as convenience — both major consumer interests today. According to a recent Kerry study, 65% of shoppers are looking for functional benefits from food and drink. In addition, 71% of millennials are trying to enhance their health, which is a higher percentage than either baby boomers or Generation X.
The impending deal also underscores Mars' commitment to move from generalized food product approaches to consumer-tailored ones. Foodspring offers consumers data-driven products with specific needs involving sports performance, healthy living and shape. This could help Mars attract shoppers interested in personalized nutrition.
The potential global market for personalized nutrition is growing. Grand View Research put it at nearly $25 billion in 2017 and estimated its growth at more than 9% annually from 2018 through 2025. The research firm said this growth stems from the one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, which is evolving to more customized programs.
In May, Mars launched an R&D partnership with Jerusalem Venture Partners to explore the nexus of food, health and technology, according to Food Ingredients First.
Other food manufacturers are also jumping into the functional foods and personalized nutrition space.
Nestlé recently invested in Swiss science company Amazentis in return for global rights to use the company's patented Urolithin A technology in foods and beverages, dietary supplements and medical nutrition products. Last year, Nestlé also introduced a personalized nutrition program in Japan called "Wellness Ambassador." The technology combines artificial intelligence, DNA testing and meal analysis to collect consumer data on diet and tailor food products to meet those specifications.
But not every company has held on to their personalized nutrition ventures. Campbell Soup in February sold its Habit personalized nutrition segment to Viome, a microbiome-based personalized food startup.
For Mars, the Foodspring deal is a shift for a company best known for its iconic line of candies. Foodspring will enable the company to have a more complete portfolio to meet consumer demands in functional foods and personalized nutrition for those looking to eat healthier — and also sweets for those wanting to indulge.
"We’re moving from one-size-fits-all food to what's right for me," Jean-Christophe Flatin, Mars Edge's president, told Forbes. "We're building a global, targeted nutrition business that will allow us to pioneer the personalized nutrition territory. We are quite confident we have found the right partners."
The fact that Foodspring also sells its product directly to consumers could help Mars boost its online presence and amass insight where consumers are purchasing more of their food and beverages.