USA – American chocolate giant, The Hershey Company has entered into an agreement to acquire low-sugar and high protein bars maker One Brands for US$397 million.

Hershey, which recently made a minority investment in Irish protein bar manufacturer Fulfil, said that the acquisition of One Brands will enable it to provide “a competitive offering of brands” in the nutrition bar category.

Hershey noted that One Brands will complement its existing Oatmega business, which was acquired as part of the 2018 acquisition of Amplify Snack Brands, and Fulfil.

 “One’s portfolio of great-tasting nutrition bars, with indulgent flavours such as birthday cake, maple glazed doughnut and peanut butter pie, will be a strong strategic fit within our overall innovative snacking powerhouse vision,” said Mary Beth West, Hershey chief growth officer.

“Our beloved confection brands will continue to be the engine that drives our business while we broaden our better-for-you portfolio, offering more snacking choices for more consumers.”

Ron McAfee, founder of One Brands, said: “We’re proud of the brand we built and look forward to continuing to build on our momentum with the strength and capabilities that Hershey can provide.”

Peter Burns, chief executive of One Brands, added: “Our consumer proposition, brand equity and team provide us with confidence, especially when combined with an industry leader like Hershey.”

Hershey intends to expand the existing One Brands offering by leveraging its own capabilities in sales and distribution, category management and digital commerce.

It is expected the transaction will close in the fourth quarter of 2019.

One Brand, which was founded in 1999 and formerly known as Oh Yeah! Nutrition, is currently backed by Cavu Venture Partners.

Hershey’s recent acquisitions of nutrition bars business seeks to tap into the growing health and wellness snack bars market which according to a report by Forbes, is expected to grow at a 2.4% CAGR from total revenues of US$6.98 billion in 2018 to US$7.88 billion in 2023.

As the nutritional food and snacks market continues to record growth, confectionery giants have increasingly expanded their investment into the sector.

Recently, Simply Good Foods announced that it has secured a deal to acquire protein snack maker Quest Nutrition for US$1 billion while Oreo maker Mondelēz also acquired a majority stake in refrigerated bars company Perfect Snacks in June.