May 25, 2018 / 6:30 PM / in 7 months

UPDATE 1-Pepsi to buy Granny Smith apple chips maker Bare Foods

(Adds details on deal value, background, analyst comment)

May 25 (Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc said on Friday it would buy baked fruit and vegetable snack maker Bare Foods Co, as the food and beverage company expands its fast-growing healthy snack portfolio.

Bare Foods, founded in 2001 in a family owned organic apple farm, sells its Granny Smith apple chips, banana and coconut snacks at stores including Starbucks Corp and Amazon.com's Whole Foods Market.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, while CNBC, citing a source, said Pepsi paid less than $200 million.

The acquisition is the latest by a U.S. food major looking to tap into rising demand from health conscious consumers for snacks that have low salt content and are less processed.

A trend that has helped power a 20 percent jump in sales of sweet biscuit, snack bars and fruit snacks to $10 billion over the past five years in North America, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor International.

General Mills, which owns Nature Valley granola bars, was the market leader in 2017, while Pepsi with a 5 percent share was at the sixth spot, according to Euromonitor.

"I would be surprised if this is the only move (Pepsi) makes to broaden the choices offered to consumers," BMO Capital Markets analyst Amit Sharma said, adding that healthy snacks category was the fastest-growing within the company's Frito-Lay snacks division.

Bare Foods will operate independently and will report into Frito-Lay North America, Pepsi said.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Uday Sampath Kumar; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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