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Unilever buys world’s “fastest growing” tea brand


Global FMCG giant Unilever has snatched up organic herbal tea company Pukka Herbs for an undisclosed sum, adding to its growing suite of smaller brands with healthier credentials.

The brand will add to Unilever’s withstanding tea portfolio, including Lipton and PG Tips, to the tune of $48.8 million annually, with recent expansion in Europe and the US having already propelled Pukka’s year-on-year growth to 30 per cent.

Research firm Euromonitor pegged Pukka as the fastest growing organic tea company in the world last year, citing the brand as a key beneficiary of the rapidly growing $2.6 billion herbal, fruit and green tea market.

“Pukka has strong values and a clear purpose that aligns fully with our own sustainable growth model. There’s a clear strategic, philosophical and cultural fit for us,” said Unilever’s Refreshment Category president, Kevin Havelock.

The move adds to Unilever’s growing list of recent acquisitions, including Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise and the Grom and Talenti gelato brands.

Founded in 2001 by Tim Westwell and Sebastian Pole, Pukka Herbs brand centres on the health and wellness philosophy aimed benefiting “people, plants and planet:. It says it uses 100 per cent certified, organic and ethically sourced ingredients.

“Tim and Sebastian have cultivated Pukka into a successful business without compromising their ingredients or their ideals. The acquisition strengthens our tea business, addressing a gap in our portfolio. Pukka is a premium player in the natural, organic, health and wellness segment which is fast-growing, attractive and scalable. We look forward to bringing Pukka to even more consumers,” Havelock explained.

Pukka Herb’s products are widely available in Australia already, predominately stocked in Woolworths, meaning that Unilever will once again extend its influence over the local market.

“From day one, our mission was to connect more people with the incredible power of plants and herbs. Sixteen years later, with 1.5 billion Pukka teas enjoyed, we’ve made huge progress – and it’s just the beginning,” said Westwell, Pukka co-founder and CEO.

“Choosing Unilever came down to two fundamentals: scale and sustainability. It is a leader in social and environmental change and it wholeheartedly embraces Pukka’s beliefs. So, there’s a meeting of values. Pukka will remain 100% organic and a champion for fair trading through pioneering schemes like Fair for Life, and continue to donate 1% of its sales to global environmental charities. With Unilever, we have new levels of reach and opportunity,” said Pole, Pukka co-founder and master herbsmith.

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