Unilever to acquire Mãe Terra

Just a few weeks after they announced their purchase of Pukka Herbs, Unilever announced have announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Brazilian natural and organic food business Mãe Terra.

Mãe Terra is a fast-growing and well-loved brand in Brazil, providing health-conscious consumers with organic and nutritious food products since it was set up in 1979. The company’s vision is to democratise natural and organic food by taking care of people and planet. Mãe Terra operates in several categories with a portfolio that includes organic cereals, cookies, snacks and culinary products. The main Mãe Terra categories represent a Brazilian market worth more than €8 billion (Euromonitor).Growing at over 30% per year, Mãe Terra has a strong brand equity and a clear purpose of making nutritious food accessible to all. This fits clearly with Unilever’s own sustainable nutrition strategy and its commitment to sustainable growth.

Globally, the healthy foods trend is gaining relevance fast. Brazil is the fifth largest market in the world for healthy food and beverages, with 79% of consumers regarding health and nutrition as priorities.

Fernando Fernandez, President of Unilever Brazil, said: “We are excited about this acquisition. Mãe Terra has a great following in Brazil and strengthens our food portfolio, allowing us to accelerate our expansion in the high-growth naturals and organic segment. With Unilever’s expertise and distribution channels, we can both grow and scale Mãe Terra, helping to realise its mission of bringing healthy and nutritious food to even more people. This is perfectly aligned to Unilever’s commitment to sustainable nutrition and to provide consumers with food that tastes good, does good and doesn’t cost the Earth.”

Alexandre Borges, CEO of Mãe Terra, said: “Unilever understands how preserving our purpose-driven culture is critical to the growth of our business and the popularity of our foods. It is uniquely placed to help us accelerate our mission to bring natural and organic food to more people in Brazil.”

Unilever will manage Mãe Terra to ensure its unique culture and vision is preserved while ensuring its ongoing success. Alexandre Borges will stay on as General Manager.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.

Our Thoughts

This has not, at least initially, got the same negative reaction as many gave to the Pukka deal but it is certainly a major purchase. It is hoped that Unilever will keep the original mindset. Unilever is working hard to get a lot of these smaller ethical companies, but there is a fear that many of these compnies work because of their independence from big business. Unilever have to be very careful not to destroy the very reason they purchased these companies. Whilst I feel it’s important to make the point Unilever is trying to change its practices and to become one of the most ethical of the big companies, it is just as important to mention it still has a long way to go, and must remember that they need to be as ethical as the best of the companies they buy not have them change to be more like it, if they adapt to the best they will be fine, if they try to have the best adapt to them they will destroy the very thing they purchased the company for.




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