- Unilever entered into an agreement to buy frozen Greek yogurt brand Yasso for an undisclosed amount. The deal is slated to close in the third quarter.
- The purchase of Yasso, known for its low calorie frozen treats, brings another premium brand to Unilever’s Ice Cream Business Group, which is aiming to increase high quality brands and offerings.
- As more consumers are looking for healthier ways to indulge, a brand like Yasso, with treats containing fewer than 150 calories, brings an on-trend way to do that.
Yasso has long been one of the hottest brands in the frozen confection space, and has seen growth through new sales and innovations.
In 2022, the company secured a spot on Inc.'s annual 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list, posting 124% growth. Last September, Yasso announced it had crossed $200 million in retail sales, making it the fastest growing scaled brand across ice cream and novelties, and growing at a rate five times faster than the rest of its category. The company said at the time it was on track to pass $300 million in retail sales in 2023.
Yasso has a wide portfolio, including 11 flavors of Greek yogurt bars, four flavors of Chocolate Crunch Bars, three frozen Greek yogurt sandwiches, three flavors of bite-size Yasso Poppables and four Yasso Mochi varieties. Many of these are available in grocery stores nationwide.
According to Yasso, the company has the third largest national distribution footprint in the frozen novelties category. The only brand that beats it, the company said last year, is Nestlé-owned Outshine.
Unilever has a lot of distribution and manufacturing power, which can give Yasso even greater presence at retailers — and potentially an international expansion. But with its high growth rate and unique frozen confections, Yasso also can immediately give Unilever a sales boost in the ice cream segment.
“This acquisition is a great step in the evolution of our Ice Cream portfolio in North America towards high growth spaces,” Unilever Ice Cream President Matt Close said in a written statement. “I am confident that with the full support of Unilever behind Yasso, we will take this fast-growing business to even greater heights.”
Handling the acquisition will be one of the first tasks for Unilever’s soon-to-be new CEO Hein Schumacher, who takes over on July 1. Unilever has undergone some big changes in its business model in the recent past, with a massive restructuring after its failed takeover of GlaxoSmithKline’s Consumer Health Business — and rumors at the time that the company was looking to divest its entire food business.
Outgoing CEO Alan Jope reiterated more than once that the ice cream business was important to Unilever. At last year’s Barclays Consumer Staples Conference, he said it would not be divested. By making a large acquisition like Yasso, it shows that Unilever’s commitment to ice cream will continue under new leadership.