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Mary’s Gone Crackers to expand after majority stake sale

By Kacey Culliney , 28-Mar-2013

Gluten-free and vegan snack specialist Mary’s Gone Crackers will be able to expand across the US and globe after a majority stake purchase by Kameda USA, its CEO says.

The US subsidiary of Japan rice cracker major Kameda Seika has acquired a 77.8% stake in Mary’s Gone Crackers for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will see Mary’s Gone Crackers management remain unchanged – with co-founder and chairman Mary Waldner and co-founder and CEO Dale Rodrigues keeping their positions.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with the Kameda Seika family, and feel privileged that the team recognizes Mary’s Gone Crackers as a brand it believes has significant potential for continued expansion in the US and abroad,” said Dale Rodrigues.

“Kameda brings a wealth of operational expertise to this partnership, and there are many synergies we’re excited to explore. For the first time in the history of Mary’s Gone Crackers, we have a partner who supports our vision and core values. We feel confident this new path will allow us to bring new products and innovations to the market with greater speed and agility, and area eager to expand our business with our original vision intact.”

Kameda Seika was founded in 1957 and holds about a 30% market share of the rice cracker market in Japan. Its US subsidiary sells and markets Kameda Crisps and Frosted Rice Crackers to the US.

Vegan, gluten-free snacking

Vegan and gluten-free are increasingly popular across the US - with food companies launching and developing snack lines suited to both.

Recently, vegan and gluten-free food specialist Earth Balance ventured into the snacks sector  with a popcorn and puffed snack line, after it identified strong opportunities in popcorn and the plant-based diet.

Gluten-free product launches continue to rise, with Mintel data showing new product launched making gluten-free claims to be up from 600 in 2007 to 1,600 in 2011.

These sales are being driven by celiac consumers, but also the health-conscious who see gluten-free as a healthier alternative.

Packaged Facts breaks gluten-free consumers down into 'circles'. The inner circles, those diagnosed celiacs in the US account for 0.1% of the population. The second circle, celiac consumers (many undiagnosed) account for 1%, wheat/gluten intolerant consumers in the third circle account for 6-7% of the population but finally consumers purchasing gluten-free represents almost a fifth of the population (18%).

Product portfolio

Mary’s Gone Crackers manufactures cookies, crackers, pretzel sticks and crumbs – all of which are organic, gluten-free, vegan and use non-GMO ingredients. The firm uses ancient grains including quinoa, amaranth, chia and flax in its products.

The brand is available in grocery and natural stores nationwide including Whole Foods Market, Kroger and Sprouts.

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