Unilever, the owner of PG Tips and Lipton, is expanding its presence into the herbal tea market by acquiring ethical tea brand Pukka Herbs.
The Bristol-based tea brand, known for its exotic, detox, and organic teas, has sold the business to Unilever for an undisclosed sum.
Unilever said the acquisition would strengthen its existing tea business, "addressing a gap in our portfolio".
The tea firm, founded by Tim Westwell and Sebastian Pole, will benefit from the Anglo-Dutch group’s network to increase distribution and encourage global expansion.
Pukka Herbs ingredients are organic and ethically-sourced and so Unilever says the takeover “represents a clear synergy with Unilever’s own sustainable living plan”.
“Pukka has strong values and a clear purpose that aligns fully with our own sustainable growth model, says Kevin Havelock, Unilever’s president for its refreshment category “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.
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.”
The sale has risen fears that the ethical tea company’s values will be tarnished by the takeover however, the co-founders say that Unilever has made “solid iron-clad commitments” to maintaining the firm’s pledge to be 100% organic, “fair for life” Fairtrade as well as its commitment to environmentalism and social change.
The acquisition comes as fewer British people are buying traditional black tea. According to analysts, Kantar Worldpanel, the volume of traditional tea sells fell by 1.6~% whilst fruit, green and herbal tea sales role by 6.8% in value.