Unilever has bought UK snack brand Graze from investment firm The Carlyle Group, the company’s first acquisition in the food and drink sector under new CEO Alan Jope.
Founded in 2008, Graze makes range of nuts, seeds, trail mixes and snack bars, with no artificial ingredients. Having started with a snack box delivery service, the brand now has products available via retail stores, e-commerce and direct to consumer.
Last year, Graze released 15 new products in January and revealed a fresh brand identity in a move to challenge the negative perceptions around snacking.
Unilever said the acquisition accelerates its presence in the fast-growing healthy snacking and out of home markets.
Nitin Paranjpe, president of Unilever’s food and refreshment business, said: “Graze is the leading healthy snacking brand in the UK – delivering consumers fabulously tasty snacking options, delivered in beautiful packaging. A truly multichannel brand, Graze offers personalisation, convenience and great nutrition, brilliantly meeting the needs of millennial consumers.
“Accelerating our presence in healthy foods and out of home, this is an excellent strategic fit for the Unilever food and refreshment business, and a wonderful addition to our stable of purpose-driven brands.
“We look forward to working with the Graze team to grow the business, leveraging their tech and e-commerce expertise for our wider portfolio, and offering more consumers the opportunity to snack in a healthier way.”
Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher added: “This deal marks a transformational moment in Graze’s growth journey. Graze believes that learning from Unilever’s sustainable living plan will become a key driver for the business.
“Graze has an incredibly exciting future ahead as part of Unilever and we look forward to working closely with the team to keep on inventing new healthy snacks, as well as continuing to work to understand the role technology can play in improving the food industry.”
The announcement comes a week after Unilever reported a 5% reduction in full-year turnover – owing to adverse currency impacts and the disposal of its spreads unit at the end of 2017.
Alan Jope, who took over as Unilever CEO from Paul Polman at the start of the year, said the firm’s number one priority is accelerating growth. “With so many of our brands enjoying leadership positions, we have significant opportunities to develop our markets, as well as to benefit from our deep global reach and purpose-led brands.”
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