Multinational Unilever has purchased organic and ethiical tea company Pukka Herbs.
Pukka Herbs Ltd was founded in 2001 by Tim Westwell and Sebastian Pole. With 100% certified, organic and ethically sourced ingredients, Pukka’s health and wellness philosophy centres around benefitting people, plants and planet. This represents a clear synergy with Unilever’s own sustainable living plan.
The pioneering British brand has a turnover of over £30m and growth of around 30%. It is also growing rapidly across Europe and the US. According to Euromonitor 2016, Pukka is the fastest growing organic tea company in the world. The herbal, fruit and green tea market is currently worth €1.6bn which trends suggest will become even more prominent globally in the future.
Unilever’s Refreshment Category President, Kevin Havelock, said: “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.”
“Both of us believe in business being a force for good in society. 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.”
Tim Westwell, Pukka co-founder and CEO said: “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.”
Sebastian Pole, Pukka co-founder and Master Herbsmith said: “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.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
This move has been met with consternation by some fans of the brand who believe that this many change the fundamental way that Pukka does business, and that Unilever may not be as ethical as Pukka. Time will tell but hopefully this will help to push Unilever further down the ethical route that its current CEO seems keen to foster.