Based in Colorado, Lily’s was co-founded by Cynthia Tice, who previously owned a natural foods store. In 2012, she launched four Lily’s chocolate style bars nationally in Whole Foods Market and has since expanded its low-sugar chocolate offering to include baking chips, peanut butter cups, as well as chocolate caramels and popcorn.
With the acquisition, Hershey aims to grow and strengthen its better-for-you confection portfolio. The company announced the strategy back in February, with intentions to extend its core brands into better-for-you offerings, while conducting research and development and making suitable acquisitions.
As part of its strategy, Hershey partnered with American Sugar Refining to co-lead an equity investment in Bonumose, a start-up with a patented process for high-purity rare sugars.
“Hershey is focused on developing a better-for-you confection portfolio that offers a variety of choices to meet the evolving needs of our consumers. Lily’s is a great strategic complement to our existing offerings in this growing segment of the confection category,” said Chuck Raup, Hershey US president.
Lily’s CEO Jane Miller added: “Cynthia had the vision that consumers wanted a better-for-you option in confections and today 80% of adults want to cut back on their sugar intake. By joining the Hershey’s family of brands, Lily’s will become a platform confection brand making better-for-you options easily accessible to all consumers.”
According to Hershey, the Lily’s acquisition is expected to be slightly accretive to earnings in the first full-year post closing.
The deal – which was made for an undisclosed sum – is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the next few months.