Alliance Consumer Growth exits barkTHINS with sale to Hershey

Alliance Consumer Growth sold its second portfolio company to Hershey Co.

Hershey said April 26 it acquired Ripple Brand Collective LLC, which owns barkTHINS snacking chocolate. Financial terms of the deal, which closed April 25, weren’t announced.

Hershey’s bought all of Congers, New York-based Ripple Brand, including the “meaningful minority” held by Alliance Consumer Growth, said ACG co-founder and managing partner Trevor Nelson.

“It was a great outcome for us,” Nelson said. “We’re just thrilled and so grateful to be part of it.”

In 2013, Ripple Brand CEO Scott Semel launched barkTHINS, a line of thin dark-chocolate bark that includes “better for you” ingredients like almonds, toasted coconut, pumpkin seeds, blueberries and quinoa. The products are non-GMO-verified, Fair-Trade-certified and kosher, the company’s website said.

Hershey’s, in a statement, said barkTHINS created a new form of “snacking chocolate.” BarkTHINS is expected to produce annual net 2016 sales in the $65 million to $75 million range, Hershey’s said.

ACG invested in Ripple Brands in March 2014. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, ACG provides minority growth capital to consumer, retail and restaurant companies. The firm typically invests from $5 million to $25 million equity per deal, the firm’s website said. Other current investments include Shake Shack and Way Better Snacks.

The sale to Hershey was not an auction process, Nelson said. In fact, this is the second time Hershey has acquired an ACG portfolio company. In February 2015, Hershey bought Krave Pure Foods, which makes Krave Jerky. ACG owned a minority of Krave and made 6x its money with the sale, Buyouts reported.

The barkTHINS investment came from ACG’s second fund, which closed at $90 million in 2014. ACG earlier this year raised $200 million with its third pool.

Performance data for the funds was not available.

Hershey’s and Ripple Brands could not be reached for comment.

Eric Brook and Joseph Dimondi of Deutsche Bank advised barkTHINS and ACG in the sale. Hershey’s did not use an outside adviser.

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Photo of barkTHINS snacking chocolate courtesy of Hershey Co