HUL looks to buy two firms, widen product portfolio

NEW DELHI : Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) is in talks to acquire majority stakes in direct-to-consumer brands Wellbeing Nutrition and Conscious Food to strengthen in-house product categories, three people aware of the matter said.

Wellbeing Nutrition is a plant-based nutrition company, while Conscious Food sells packaged organic food items, one of the three people cited above said.

All three people spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Wellbeing Nutrition transaction is likely to be around $20 million, the person cited above said; the size of the Conscious Food deal couldn’t be ascertained.

Hindustan Unilever is considering the Wellbeing acquisition to gain from growing consumer awareness for organic and healthy food.

The diversified conglomerate is keen to ramp up its Annapurna brand, which primarily offers atta and salt, and Conscious Food could be housed under the same vertical if the deal materializes.

A spokesperson for Hindustan Unilever said the company does not comment on “market speculation”.

Email queries sent to Wellbeing Nutrition and Conscious Food remained unanswered till press time.

Wellbeing Nutrition, founded in 2019 by Avnish Chhabria, offers products across daily wellness, functional nutrition, children’s organic nutrition and natural nutri-cosmetics.

The company’s website says it works with more than 150 organic farms and suppliers globally.

The brand sells on its online platform across more than 2,000 stores in India and over 5,000 stores across the world, in the US, UK, United Arab Emirates and Germany. It counts early-stage venture capital fund Fireside Ventures among its key investors.

Conscious Food, established in 1990, offers products such as sprouted wheat dalia, sprouted ragi flour, semolina, digestive mix, spirulina power, Gir cow ghee, herbs and energizing tea.

It is available nationwide at modern retail brands stores such as Nature’s Basket, Foodhall, FabIndia, Westside and HyperCity, and can be ordered on online platforms such as Amazon and BigBasket.

To enter the nutraceutical space, which is one of the sought-after categories among both institutional and strategic investors, Hindustan Unilever has in the recent past also had a similar discussion with Power Gummies, which is backed by 9Unicorns, DSG Consumer Partners, Wipro Consumers and Sharpp Ventures (Marico family office), among others.

The talks didn’t yield any outcome as there were differences over valuation, among other reasons, the second person added. The platform was launched in 2018 by Divij Bajaj to introduce dietary supplements in a chewable form rather than capsules and tablets.

Currently, the brand has several variants, including Gorgeous Hair & Nails (hair & nail vitamin gummies), The Beach Body (sugar-free gummies for weight management), That Time of the Month (period pain relief gummies) and Jaw-Dropping Skin (collagen builder gummies for skin), among others. Email queries sent to Power Gummies remained unanswered.

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