Unilever acquires plant-based food firm Vegetarian Butcher

Unilever, a household goods conglomerate with its U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, has acquired The Netherlands-based The Vegetarian Butcher, it announced Thursday.

The acquisition, Unilever said, will help it expand its portfolio into plant-based foods, including vegetarian and vegan meals, that are healthier and have lower environmental impact.

“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 toward more plant-based food,” Nitin Paranjpe, president, Foods & Refreshment, Unilever, said.

Unilever and The Vegetarian Butcher began working together in 2016 when they jointly launched “Vegetarian Meatballs in Satay Sauce” and “Vegetarian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce” marketed under the Unox brand.

Currently, Unilever is selling approximately 700 products with a V-label (a symbol for labeling vegan and vegetarian products) in Europe, including products from Unox, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Conimex and Ben & Jerry’s brands.

Under the deal, the Vegetarian Butcher’s 90 employees will remain with the business under Unilever’s ownership.The deal is expected to close before the end of 2018. Financial information was not disclosed.