Unilever to acquire ‘human optimisation’ brand Onnit

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The British consumer goods giant announced yesterday (April 26th) that it is adding the health and wellness firm to its portfolio, allowing it to delve into the worlds of sports nutrition and cognitive health supplements.

The Onnit brand, founded in 2010 by Aubrey Marcus, sells a range of supplements focusing on cognitive function, mood and relaxation, gut health and immunity support. The range’s hero product is ‘Alpha BRAIN’, a nootropic supplement for better memory, focus, and mental processing.

Peter ter Kulve, President of Home Care and Health & Wellbeing at Unilever, said: “Onnit is a leading brand in the fast-growing nootropics segment. With its holistic health offering and digital-first model, Onnit perfectly complements our growing portfolio of innovative wellness and supplement brands that include OLLY, Equilibra, Liquid I.V., and SmartyPants Vitamins.”

Onnit also offers functional nutrition, fitness essentials, and a digital content platform that provides informative and motivational articles, interviews, advice, and fitness programs for its consumer base.

Fabian Garcia, President of Unilever North America, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Onnit to the Unilever family. As a dynamic and purpose-led brand, Unilever is strongly aligned with Onnit’s vision to improve the health and wellness of consumers with scientifically proven solutions.”

Aubrey Marcus, founder of Onnit, said: “Since day one, my vision has been for Onnit to become a global movement, empowering people with the tools and information to reach their highest physical and mental potential. I am so proud of what we have accomplished, and now, with Unilever’s scale and presence, we are one step closer to inspiring millions more to take charge of their health and wellbeing.”

Onnit will continue to be based in Austin, Texas, and led by CEO Jason Havey. Founder Aubrey Marcus will remain a brand ambassador.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

No passing trend

This is the latest in a string of partnerships and acquisitions undertaken by the international consumer goods heavyweight which see it move further into the functional foods and supplements space.

NutraIngredients recently revealed it had ramped up its interest in the gut microbiome in a new partnership with Microba Life Sciences looking at the link between gut health and sleep quality.

At the end of last year, the firm also signed an agreement to acquire fast growing supplement manufacturer SmartyPants Vitamins.

Speaking about the firm’s interest in this health and wellness space last year, Dr Angelika De Bree, global nutrition director, told our sister title FoodNavigator: “One of major lifestyle changes we see is an exponential growth in attention to health and wellbeing with immunity being the epicentre of this attention. We think that the heightened interest from consumers in staying healthy is here to stay. In that sense, we belief that health and wellness will indeed become more mainstream.”

She added: “Whilst some ingredients might be trending now, we can imagine that holistic health for holistic immunity is here to stay and thereby a new need state for consumers. We can help our consumers by providing relevant products and inspiring recipes that help them in a simple manner to support their immune system.”​ 

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