The food and commodities giant said the deal fits with its strategy to expand its portfolio into plant-based foods that are healthier and have lower environmental impact. It currently sells about 700 vegetarian products across all its ranges in Europe.
Nitin Paranjpe, president of Foods & Refreshment at Unilever, said: “The Vegetarian Butcher is a brand with a clear mission, many loyal ambassadors and good following on social media, and a strong position in the market.
Meet customer needs
“The brand will fit in well within our portfolio of ‘brands with purpose’, which have a positive social impact, are better positioned to meet the needs of consumers and are growing faster. Importantly, this acquisition will help us to accelerate our journey towards more plant-based food.”
Founded in 2007 by Jaap Korteweg, The Vegetarian Butcher sells its products in more than 4,000 outlets across 17 countries. It has been in partnership with Unilever since 2016, jointly launching its Vegetarian Meatballs in Satay Sauce and Tomato Sauce products under the Unox brand.
“We want to take the next step – conquer the world,” said Korteweg. “It is our mission to make plant-based meat the standard. We believe that with Unilever’s international network, this acquisition will help to accelerate our mission.”
Employs about 90 people
The Vegetarian Butcher employs about 90 people, who are expected to remain with the business under Unilever ownership.
Unilever’s acquisition of The Vegetarian Butcher comes less than a month after it agreed to acquire GlaxoSmithKline’s Health Food Drinks portfolio in 22 Asian markets, including India and Bangladesh, for a total contribution on its part of €3.3bn (£2.98bn) in cash and shares.
Meanwhile, Unilever’s chief executive Paul Polman is to retire at the end of this year, to be replaced by Beauty & Personal Care division president Alan Jope from 1 January.