The purchase of Texas business Epic – manufacturer of products including the meat, seed and fruit-based Epic snack bars – was announced yesterday and extends General Mills’ presence in the growing natural/organic food category.
“General Mills is building a portfolio of natural/organic brands and this acquisition fits well with this strategy and will meld nicely with the Annie's Homegrown brand [acquired by General Mills in 2014], which has also ventured into snacks,” Mintel global food and drink analyst Patty Johnson told BakeryandSnacks.
Protein source of choice
The deal also takes General Mills into the meat snacks category, which has been growing rapidly and, in the US, is proving particularly attractive to US adults in households with children under 18 years old, as well as Millennial age consumers.
According to Mintel’s 2015 Snack, Nutrition and Protein Bars report, 32% of snack bar users look for bars that are high in protein, while 19% of US consumers select meat as their protein source of choice, the fourth leading option behind nuts, seeds, and grains.
“The company does not really have a meat snack brand, so this protein-rich brand, projected to do $20 million in revenue in 2015, will give General Mills an opportunity to tap into snacking trends, as well as take advantage of consumer movement into high protein snacks,” added Johnson.
Other food giants have extended into meat snacking in recent years, she pointed out, including Hershey with its acquisition of the Krave jerky brand in 2015.
Epic Provisions fans react to sale
Epic Provisions’ decision to sell to General Mills has received a mixed reaction from fans of the brand.
The meat snacks business was launched in 2013 by Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest, and the Epic brand message has focused on the sourcing of meat from humanely treated animals that have been grass-fed.
In a blog posted on the Epic brand website yesterday, the founders said:
“Our decision to sell Epic to General Mills will exponentially influence large-scale grassland restoration, further create a need for pasture raised animals, as well as increase the availability of our nourishing food to consumers…
'Tangible and measurable change'
“By integrating disruptive companies and learning from young entrepreneurs, big food business like General Mills can leverage financial and operational resources to create tangible and measurable change…
“This acquisition is NOT about General Mills changing Epic, but rather Epic changing General Mills.”
News of the sale was welcomed by many consumers on the Epic Facebook page, with messages of congratulation such as: “Can't wait to see you flourish and make a positive impact on the current market.”; and “This is such an incredible thing for the industry and is the surest sign that the real-food revolution is changing the world for the better.”
Unhappy with decision
But others are clearly unhappy with the decision, with some claiming they will stop buying Epic bars as a result of the sale: “I hate when these amazing, small companies sell out to these large corporations.”; and “I sure hope it's Epic changing GM and not the other way around.”
In response to some of the Facebook concerns, Epic pointed out that it is operating independently of General Mills: “we have the final say regarding ingredients, production, product development, and pricing”.