Mars has taken a minority stake in Kind Snacks, a fruit and nut bar company, as it looks to grow in the healthier snacks segment.

Kind was reportedly approached by several buyers, but opted for Mars because it offered the highest value and is allowing the company to remain privately held.

It will remain independent and be led by founder Daniel Lubetzky. The US company was one of the earlier brands to tap into rising demand for food made without artificial ingredients, and has more than $700 million in annual sales.

Grant Reid, Mars’ chief executive, said: “The investment in Kind was part of a strategy to broaden our portfolio to address evolving consumer needs  and Kind will use Mars’ global distribution network to introduce itself to new markets. Its bars are already sold in 14
countries. The opportunity was too big for us to do it on our own.”