Unilever paying $384M for Starbucks’ TAZO tea brand

Unilever has added a multimillion-dollar drink to its brands.

The Englewood Cliffs company has made an agreement to acquire the TAZO brand from Starbucks.

TAZO is a leading brand of specialty tea that had sales of $112.5 million over the past year.

Unilever will acquire the TAZO brand and all related intellectual property, signature recipes and inventory for $384 million.

“With its strong appeal to millennials, TAZO is a perfect strategic fit for our U.S. portfolio that includes exciting new brands such as Seventh Generation, Dollar Shave Club and Sir Kensington’s,” said Unilever North America President Kees Kruythoff. “TAZO’s solid position in the fast-growing specialty tea segment, coupled with Unilever’s tea expertise, presents a fantastic growth opportunity.”

TAZO was founded in 1994, and has a strong position in specialty black, green and herbal teas, as well as liquid concentrates focused in the chai latte segment.

The fast-growing specialty tea segment makes up 48 percent of the total $1.6 billion at-home tea category, with trends suggesting it will become more prominent in the future, Unilever said in a release.
TAZO is sold primarily in grocery, mass and convenience channels in the United States and Canada, and is offered in formats including packaged teas, K-Cups and bottled teas.

“TAZO represents another strategic addition which strengthens our tea portfolio towards high growth segments,” said Kevin Havelock, Unilever’s president of refreshment. “Its artfully crafted specialty teas perfectly complement our global tea business, which includes Lipton, Pure Leaf, PG Tips, T2 and our recent addition, Pukka.”

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.