December 19, 2018 / 12:07 PM / 6 months ago

Unilever goes green with takeover of Dutch 'Vegetarian Butcher'

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Unilever is seen at the headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) said it has agreed to buy ‘The Vegetarian Butcher’, a fast growing Dutch producer of plant-based meat replacements such as vegetarian hamburgers, imitation meatballs and fishless tuna.

The takeover, for an undisclosed sum, fits the Anglo-Dutch group’s strategy of increasing its range of plant-based foods, as consumers increasingly tend to eat less meat out of health and environmental concerns.

De Vegetarische Slager, as the company is known in Dutch, was founded in 2007 by farmer Jaap Korteweg, who together with scientists and chefs aimed to create plant substitutes that could rival the taste and texture of real meat.

The company’s products are sold in over 4,000 stores in 17 countries, and Korteweg last year said sales had increased to over 10 million euros ($11.4 million).

“Now we want to go global and make plant-based meat the standard”, Korteweg said in a statement. “We can accelerate our ambition together with Unilever.”

The two companies have been working together since 2016, with Unilever introducing vegetarian meatballs under its Unox brand name.

Unilever earlier this month said it would buy GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) Horlicks nutrition business for $3.8 billion, boosting its position in India by adding the popular malted drink.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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