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Exponent is pleased to announce it has acquired and merged Eat Real and Proper, two leading Better-for-You (“BFY”) snacking companies. The two businesses will be integrated as one Group and will continue to operate under their respective brand names. This acquisition builds on Exponent’s extensive experience in the food and beverage sector, with current and past investments including Vibrant Foods, Quorn Foods, Loch Lomond and Meadow Foods.

Eat Real was founded in 2014 by Priyesh Patel and is the UK’s number one ‘Free-From’ snacking brand. Eat Real’s flagship lentil, hummus and quinoa chips are vegan, gluten-free, and free from all 14 declarable allergens. The brand has experienced significant growth as its promise of natural ingredients and ‘no added nasties’ (artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives) has resonated with mainstream consumers in the UK and internationally. Eat Real was acquired by Exponent in June 2020.

Proper, founded by Cassandra Stavrou and Ryan Kohn in 2011, is a pioneer in UK healthy snacking and has revolutionised the popcorn category. Proper’s distinctive and impactful branding underpins its vegan and low-calorie snacking range, allowing Proper to build a leading position in the popcorn market, both in the UK and internationally. The company has become synonymous with a new and healthier snacking generation, and in 2019 launched Properchips, which has been the UK’s most successful BFY snacking product launch in recent years.

Better-for-You products are growing fast within the £4bn crisps and snacks market, driven by consumer demand for healthier snacking and successful innovation by players such as Eat Real and Proper. The two companies will continue as separate brands but with a shared ambition to recruit new consumers into the healthier snacking category. By leveraging each other’s strengths, the partnership will propel the category as a whole and accelerate both brands’ innovation pipelines.

The new business will be headquartered in London and led by Exponent Chair Kevin Brennan (former CEO of Quorn) and CEO Chris Schulze-Melander (Former European CEO of Ecover – Method). Kevin brings a wealth of experience in leading fast-growing healthy food businesses within a private equity context, while Chris has extensive experience in integrating and growing challenger brands within emerging FMCG categories.

Simon Davidson, Senior Partner at Exponent, commented: “This is an exciting time to be investing in BFY snacking. Eat Real and Proper have the brand strength and product quality to drive the category’s growth and fulfil the clear consumer demand for taste-led healthier snacking options. We look forward to supporting the new Group as it invests in growth and innovation going forward.”

Chris Schulze-Melander, CEO of Eat Real and Proper, said: “Eat Real and Proper have performed exceptionally over the past few years, winning with consumers and retailers alike. It has been a dream of mine to bring these two amazing brands together and fire up the healthy snacking revolution. I look forward to leading them on the next steps of this journey as we expand the Group’s reach and bring to market new and exciting products.”