London, UK / Rotterdam, NL. (ul) Unilever PLC is acquiring The Vegetarian Butcher. The acquisition fits with Unilever’s strategy to expand its portfolio into plant-based foods that are healthier and have a lower environmental impact. With this acquisition, Unilever is responding to the growing trend among consumers to increasingly opt for vegetarian and vegan meals. For The Vegetarian Butcher, the acquisition is the next step in its ambition to grow into «the largest butcher in the world». Founder Jaap Korteweg: «Unilever’s international network across 190 countries, provides every opportunity to accomplish this.»
Jaap Korteweg, a ninth-generation meat farmer and a real meat lover, became a vegetarian and founded The Vegetarian Butcher in 2007 to satiate his own need for quality «meat», which was not produced from animals. The products made by The Vegetarian Butcher are being sold in over 4,000 outlets in 17 countries. According to Korteweg, the acquisition has come at the right time. «We want to take the next step – conquer the world. 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.»
Unilever and The Vegetarian Butcher started working together in 2016 when they jointly launched the «Vegetarian Meatballs in Satay Sauce» and «Vegetarian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce», which were marketed under the Unox brand.
The acquisition, which was announced this week, is a step on Unilever’s journey towards a portfolio with more plant-based products. Currently, Unilever is selling nearly 700 products with V-label in Europe. In the Netherlands, these include products from Unox, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Conimex and Ben + Jerry’s brands.
Nitin Paranjpe, President Foods + Refreshment Unilever: «The Vegetarian Butcher is a brand with a clear mission, many loyal ambassadors, a good following on social media and a strong position in the market. 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.»
The Vegetarian Butcher employs approximately 90 people, who are expected to remain with the business under Unilever ownership. The acquisition is expected to be completed before the end of 2018.