In a blockbuster press release, Mondelēz – the former Kraft Foods spinoff and manufacturer of such iconic brands as Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Ritz, Cadbury and Trident – announced yesterday that it had acquired Enjoy Life Foods, the leading brand in the Free From category and a member of the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership.
“As we focus on continuing to drive growth in snacking, the acquisition of Enjoy Life Foods is a great strategic fit for us,” said Mark Clouse, Chief Growth Officer at Mondelēz International. “The Enjoy Life brand expands our portfolio into faster growing, on-trend, ‘better- for-you’ areas and provides an excellent platform to make these delicious offerings available to consumers with ‘free-from’ needs or simply looking for healthy-lifestyle options, both in the United States and beyond.”
All well and good for Mondelēz, but acquisitions of this magnitude have the potential to change a brand for good or bad, and Enjoy Life is especially important to the allergic community. To sort out the implications behind the acquisition, we contacted Joel Warady, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Enjoy Life.
SnackSafely.com: Joel, congratulations on the acquisition! This is a huge endorsement of the Enjoy Life brand and the work you’ve been doing in the Free From sector. That said, we’ve received many inquiries from readers concerned with how this might change Enjoy Life’s mission. How will this affect the firm’s commitment to the allergic community?
Dave, thanks for the congrats, and for your willingness to provide clarity to your followers. Your voice is important and so well respected in the industry. We really appreciate you taking the time to share our responses.
When we first met with Mondelēz, from day one, the conversation always revolved around the fact that what we do is different, and we need to remain a stand-alone entity. They are committed to that.
Scott Mandell, CEO and Founder, myself, and the entire Enjoy Life team will continue to lead the company. We will continue to produce our products in our dedicated facilities, and we will not be moving our production into Mondelēz facilities. There will be no chance for cross-contamination.
Here is the other interesting thing: Mondelēz is very committed to the food allergy community; that is why they acquired us. They realize how important this community is, and by having Enjoy Life as part of their company, they are now able to serve this community in the best way possible.
How will the arrangement affect current and future products? Will the Mondelēz acquisition allow Enjoy Life to expand its portfolio faster while maintaining current standards?
Our current products will continue to be made with the same trusted ingredients that you have known and loved. Nothing will change. We might tweak our baking process a bit to make the products taste better, but we have been doing that for the past 13 years.
What we are most excited about is the fact that by having the resources and expertise of Mondelēz behind us, we will be able to speed up new product innovation, and bring more allergy-friendly products to the market in a more expedient manner.
But we will never waiver from our brand promise. Our products will remain certified gluten free, free from the top 8 allergens (12 in Canada, 14 in the EU), no artificial ingredients, and all products and all future products will be verified non-GMO. And with the backing of Mondelēz, we will be able to get our products to market quicker, and gain more distribution, which will make our products more readily available to the consumers who need and want our great-tasting products in their homes.
What about Enjoy Life’s commitment to supporting the organizations that serve the food allergy community? Will the firm continue to be an active and visible supporter of FARE walks, free from expos, etc?
Not only will we continue to be at all of the events, we will expand our presence. We are such big supporters of all of the events and advocacy groups, with the additional capital we will be able to expand and enhance our commitment.
Last but not least, Enjoy Life is a charter member of our Manufacturer Partnership. Can we count on the firm to maintain its commitment to full disclosure that you helped pioneer as an early joiner?
With respect to the work that SnackSafely.com has done, and our involvement, nothing will change. We support the great work that you are doing and we look to continue to work together in spreading the word. We will remain 100% transparent as a company, and as always, your readers can reach out to us personally to ask any questions that they might have.
In light of Warady’s comments, we are optimistic this merger will provide Enjoy Life with a foundation upon which they can accelerate the introduction of new products while continuing their commitment to serving the allergic community.
We also hope the ethos Enjoy Life brings to Mondelēz will foster a more open spirit toward greater transparency in the parent company. We stand by to help them when they do.