DEERFIELD, ILL. – A challenge facing Mondelez International, Inc. in making mergers and acquisitions is management is intent on staying focused on the snacking space.

“We are trying to become stronger and stronger and better and better in the snacking space,” said Dirk Van de Put, chairman and chief executive officer, during the virtual Morgan Stanley Global Consumer Conference on Dec. 3. “…the issue is that it's difficult to find pure snacking companies. There are a few, but not necessarily the kind of deal(s) we’ve done. So, we are more focused on bolt-on acquisitions in attractive spaces.”

Examples of past bolt-on acquisitions include Give & Go, a maker of sweet baked foods like cookies and brownies, this past April; Perfect Snacks, a maker of refrigerated nutrition bars and bites, in July 2019; and Tate’s Bake Shop, a premium cookie manufacturer, in June 2018.

Mr. Van de Put identified the “bakery, pastries” and bars categories as natural extensions of Mondelez’s snacking portfolio.

“We see that whole universe as ours, which offers a lot of possibilities, and Give & Go was one of those,” he said. “And then there’s the geographical opportunities we have. It’s rare you find a country where we are No. 1 in biscuits, chocolate, gum and candy. So, there’s a lot of opportunity there, as you can imagine, with a lot of potential cost synergies to do something in countries around the world.”

Two additional areas of M&A opportunity he identified were premium and personalization. In premium chocolate, for example, Mr. Van de Put said Mondelez is “not as an important player as we would like to be,” but it is a market growing faster than the overall chocolate market. While the premium biscuit category is currently under pressure due to COVID-19, he said, “we assume it’s going to come back” and there are certain things the company needs to do in the space.

He called personalization “where we’re heading” and added “most of that we see at the moment (is) in China, but gradually, those models will come into the rest of the world. And, so, we think we should focus there, too.”