Economy

Unilever buys organic tea maker Pukka Herbs

Unilever buys organic tea maker Pukka Herbs”

Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever announced it has bought small British organic tea brand Pukka Herbs Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

Pukka has an annual turnover of over £30m and growth of around 30 per cent, according to Unilever.

Founders Sebastian Pole and Tim Westwell are believed to have agreed to stay on to help drive global expansion of the brand. With 100% certified, organic and ethically sourced ingredients, Pukka's health and wellness philosophy centres around benefitting people, plants and planet. The company employs around 110 people in Bristol and next year is due to move into Cadbury's former Somerdale factory in Keynsham.

The sale may raise fears that the independent ethical brand may lose its values by being taken over by a large corporation.

Sebastian Pole, Pukka co-founder and master herbsmith, said: "Choosing Unilever came down to scale and sustainability".

The herbal, fruit and green tea market is now worth €1.6 billion, with trends suggesting will become even more prominent in the future.

It flagged weak consumer demand across Europe, noting a slowdown in the margarine market in the United Kingdom and Germany knocking overall growth. It is a leader in social and environmental change and it wholeheartedly embraces Pukka's beliefs.

Unilever already has PG Tips in its extensive stable of brands, but has in recent years sought to expand into the tea industry.

Unilever's Refreshment Category President, Kevin Havelock, said: 'Pukka has strong values and a clear objective that aligns fully with our own sustainable growth model.

Nestle said Sweet Earth would remain independent from its US food business, which includes DiGiorno pizzas and Hot Pockets, and continue to be led by its founders. "Tim and Sebastian have cultivated Pukka into a successful business without ever compromising ingredients or their ideals". As a premium player in the fast-growing natural and organic segment, Pukka Herbs addresses a gap in Unilever's tea business, said Kevin Havelock, president of Unilever's refreshment category. "We look forward to bringing Pukka to even more consumers".



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