Unilever expands its premium ice cream category with the Yasso purchase

Unilever entered into an agreement to buy the frozen Greek yoghurt 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, offers an on-trend way to do that.

Yasso, a popular brand in the frozen confection space, has experienced significant growth and success in recent years. In 2022, the company achieved a spot on Inc.’s annual 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list with a growth rate of 124%. By September of that year, Yasso announced that it had surpassed $200 million in retail sales, making it the fastest-growing brand in the ice cream and novelty category, outpacing the growth of its competitors by a factor of five. The company is projected to reach $300 million in retail sales in 2023.

Yasso’s product portfolio includes a variety of frozen treats, such as 11 flavours of Greek yoghurt bars, four flavours of Chocolate Crunch Bars, three frozen Greek yoghurt sandwiches, three flavours of bite-size Yasso Poppables, and four Yasso Mochi varieties. These products are available in grocery stores across the United States. Yasso claims to have the third-largest national distribution footprint in the frozen novelties category, with the only brand surpassing it being Nestlé-owned Outshine. The acquisition of Yasso by Unilever, a company with extensive distribution and manufacturing capabilities, could provide Yasso with even greater visibility among retailers and potentially enable international expansion. Additionally, Yasso’s high growth rate and unique frozen confections can provide Unilever with an immediate boost in the ice cream segment.

Unilever Ice Cream President, Mr. Matt Close expressed confidence in the acquisition, stating that with Unilever’s support, Yasso’s fast-growing business will reach new heights. The handling of the acquisition will be one of the first tasks for Unilever’s incoming CEO, Mr. Hein Schumacher, who assumes the position on July 1. Unilever has recently undergone significant changes in its business model, including a major restructuring following the failed takeover of GlaxoSmithKline’s Consumer Health Business.

Despite rumours suggesting a potential divestment of its entire food business, Unilever’s outgoing CEO, Mr. Alan Jope, reiterated the importance of the ice cream business and stated that it would not be divested. The acquisition of Yasso reinforces Unilever’s commitment to the ice cream segment under new leadership.