IRELAND – American chocolate manufacturer, The Hershey Company has announced a minority investment in Irish protein bar manufacturer Fulfil to expand its business in Europe.

Fulfil Holdings, which was founded in 2016, is a one of the leading makers of vitamin fortified, high protein nutrition bars in the UK and Ireland.

The Dublin headquartered firm sells 11 snack bar flavours and claims to have close to 100% distribution within retail, convenience, petrol and sports nutrition channels in Ireland.

Fulfil said that the investment will create opportunities in new occasions among new consumer segments and markets.

Brian O’Sullivan, CEO of Fulfil Holdings, believes the brand’s success is a result of disrupting the traditional snacking market with bars that have nutritional benefits.

“Our objective is to deliver great-tasting, nutritional snacking products to consumers worldwide,” Brian said.

“Over the last 18 months, we have built a highly capable management team and have developed an aggressive expansion strategy based on a thorough understanding of our target consumer.

“I am delighted that The Hershey Company with its scale and knowledge of snacking built over 125 years has seen the opportunity that Fulfil poses.

 “Its investment will enable our expansion strategy and is an exciting milestone in what has already been the incredible journey of Fulfil,” Brian added.

The company, in which Barry Connolly is majority owner, has been pursuing an ambitious policy of expansion into new markets. It entered the United Kingdom last year and is also selling in Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and even in Iceland.

Barry Connolly bought out founders Niall McGrath and Tom Gannon last year, in a deal that valued Fulfil at about US$44.39 million (€40m).

The move is also viewed as an opportunity by Hershey’s to boost its presence in the European market.

Fulfil’s portfolio of snack bars includes flavours such as: chocolate salted caramel, white chocolate and cookie dough, and peanut and caramel.

Fulfil has been doubling its sales each year and industry sources expect it to deliver consumer sales of close to US$110.9 million (€100 million) this year making it the second largest confectionary brand in Ireland by sales behind Mondelez.

Hershey is also said to have acquired a minority stake in Max Brenner’s owner, Blue Stripes LLC to further expand with emerging snacking businesses.