Unilever, the consumer products behemoth behind brands such as Lipton tea and Ben & Jerry’s has agreed to acquire Starbucks’ tea brand Tazo in a US£348mn deal.
Founded in 1994, Tazo tea has a range of black, green and herbal tea offerings - available for both hot and cold drinks.
The brand also sells liquid concentrates focusing on the Chai tea market segment and produces a number of ready-to-drink bottled teas.
It was acquired by Starbucks in 1999 and is mostly distributed in the US and Canada.
The acquisition by Unilever is the latest in a string of deals by the Anglo-Dutch consumer giant to add smaller and healthier brands to its portfolio, particularly those in the fast-growing speciality tea market.
“With its strong appeal to millennials, Tazo is a perfect strategic fit for our US portfolio that includes exciting new brands such as Seventh Generation, Dollar Shave Club and Sir Kensington’s,” Unilever North America president Kees Kruythoff said.
“Tazo’s solid position in the fast-growing speciality tea segment, coupled with Unilever’s tea expertise, presents a fantastic growth opportunity.”
Through the agreement, Unilever has agreed to buy the Tazo brand, its recipes, intellectual property and inventory for $348mn.
For Starbuck’s, which acquired Tazo in 1999 for $8.1 million, the deal is a lucrative one which offers a more than 47-times return on its investment.