Last week, we reported on Hershey’s divestment of the popular snacking brand KRAVE. With the gourmet jerky brand up for sale, industry operators quickly began eyeing the meat provider to leverage their own new strategy for growth. The lucky winner of the brand was announced this morning: Sonoma Brands scooped up KRAVE in an acquisition for an undisclosed amount.
“I have always had a great relationship with The Hershey Company and watched them grow KRAVE,” said Jon Sebastiani, Founder and Managing Partner of Sonoma Brands and Founder of KRAVE jerky. “From expanding KRAVE’s product offerings to dipping into the plant-based category and increasing worldwide distribution, KRAVE is in a great spot to come back home to Sonoma where we can continue the brand's fantastic momentum as a category leader.”
KRAVE rose to an immediate cult-following from its inception in 2009 by being one of the key leaders of the jerky renaissance, elevating the gas station snack with a culinary twist resulting in the brand’s acquisition by The Hershey Company in 2015. KRAVE has continued to stand out in the protein category with innovative products and flavors. According to a press release, the diverse portfolio of protein snacks currently features a roster of KRAVE Meat Cuts, KRAVE Pork Rinds, and KRAVE Plant-Based Jerky, the brand’s most recent launch. With KRAVE’s homecoming back under Sebastiani’s guidance, innovation for the brand is expected to be catapulted further.
Sebastiani began his career in the family wine business where he cultivated a deeply rooted connection to the abundant region of Sonoma. Following the tremendously successful sale of KRAVE, Sebastiani embarked on his next entrepreneurial endeavor to form Sonoma Brands. Sebastiani's commitment to lead the Sonoma region into further prominence as a hub for food entrepreneurship, has been evident in his development of successful brands including: SMASHMALLOW premium snackable marshmallows, SMASHGUMMY low-sugar gummies, and PECKISH perfectly boiled eggs. As a private equity investor, Sonoma Brands has also made strategic investments to-date in high-growth consumer brands including: Christina Tosi’s acclaimed Milk Bar, Hu Products plant-based chocolate, Guayaki yerba mate, and more.
“KRAVE is a great brand with a loyal fanbase who appreciates its innovative gourmet flavors and culinary roots tracing back to its origins in Sonoma, California,” said Hector de la Barreda, President of Amplify Snack Brands. “We look forward to its success with a different go-to-market model under the guidance of founder Jon Sebastiani.”
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