HERSHEY, PA. — The Hershey Co. on June 25 completed its acquisition of Lily’s, a maker of low-sugar chocolate products, for $425 million.
“Lily’s is a great addition to Hershey’s growing portfolio of better-for-you snacking brands, and we are excited to add this high-growth, leading BFY brand and to get to work with its talented and innovative team,” said Chuck Raup, president of US at Hershey. “Lily’s popular low-sugar products are a great strategic fit with our multi-pronged better-for-you snacking strategy and will perfectly complement our existing iconic Hershey’s BFY offerings.”
Based in Boulder, Colo., Lily’s markets an assortment of stevia-sweetened chocolate bars, baking chips and other confections such as peanut butter cups and coated nuts and popcorn. A broad offering of flavors spans dark, extra dark, milk and white chocolate style varieties. Products are available in more than 24,000 retail outlets nationwide.
The brand was founded by Cynthia Tice, previously a natural foods store owner who had sworn off sugar but couldn’t kick her daily chocolate cravings. A longtime user of stevia in home cooking and baking, she began experimenting with the sweetener to create a healthier take on her favorite indulgence. The initial products debuted nationally at Whole Foods Market in 2012.
The addition to Hershey’s portfolio builds on the company’s multi-pronged approach to offer better-for-you snacks and confections. In February, the company shared plans to expand its portfolio to deliver more reduced-sugar, organic and plant-based alternatives. Additionally, Hershey partnered with ASR Group, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based sweetener company, to co-lead an equity investment in Bonumose, Inc., a startup focused on plant-based ingredients, including rare and natural sugars. The investment, which is part of Hershey’s C7 Ventures, will fuel a research and development partnership aimed at advancing the tastes of Hershey’s zero- and reduced-sugar chocolate, along with its broader better-for-you snack offerings going forward.