Unilever gives supplements another chance with Olly acquisition

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever gives supplements another chance with Olly acquisition

Related tags Gummy Gummy vitamin Cpg companies CPG Unilever

The US arm of global consumer products giant Unilever will acquire San Francisco-based supplement brand Olly. With functional foods and gummy supplements ranging from multivitamins to beauty-from-within, Olly fits in the cross section of Unilever’s two flagship categories: beauty and personal care, and foods and refreshments.

“OLLY’s focus on making nutrition delightfully easy aligns closely with Unilever values and our continued commitment to improving people’s wellbeing,”​ Amanda Sourry, president of Unilever North America, said in a press release.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Eric Ryan, the entrepreneur behind household cleaning products brand Method, co-founded Olly in 2015 with business partner Brad Harrington who had worked as the chief marketing officer for nutrition company Shaklee.

Ryan is staying on as chief growth officer, according to Unilever’s press release, with the key task of “exploring further opportunities in the health and wellbeing area.”​ Olly’s current COO Gerry Chesser will take on the role of CEO. According to Harrington’s LinkedIn, he remains listed as the company’s co-founder.

Ryan and Harrington shook up the supplement space by delivering gummies that go beyond multivitamins. “What we had to do early on is push our manufacturing partners to really innovate,” ​Harrington told us in 2017​. “Up until that time it was really just multi, and maybe fiber. We wanted to go into all of these other spaces.”

It now has 21 gummy supplements positioned for different outcomes. It has nine multivitamins and 12 ‘Wellness Boosts,’ which are gummies with positionings such as sleep, energy, focus, and three for beauty-from-within (Undeniable Beauty, Vibrant Skin, Flawless Complexion).

Last year, Olly grew its portfolio to include more functional food​ options with protein powders (it now has seven) and protein bars (six circular-shaped bars in different flavors).

Olly’s combination of product offerings, from a protein snack to beauty supplements, made it a good fit for Unilever, according to Sourry. “OLLY is a strong, innovative brand in the fast-growing health and wellbeing space, and nicely complements our businesses in Beauty & Personal Care and Foods & Refreshment,”​ she said.

Unilever's supplements track record

Unilever has dabbled in supplements before, though it has never been the company’s forte. It acquired weight loss brand SlimFast in 2000 but the company spiraled downward​ until Unilever eventually unloaded the brand to venture capital firm Kainos Capital.

In Europe, Unilever once owned Dextro Energy, a brand of energy drinks and bars based on dextrose which it sold in 2005. According to Unilever’s current global website, it still owns the dextrose energy drink brand Glaxose-D in Pakistan.

The Anglo-Dutch company also explored investing €20 million developing products around weight loss ingredient Hoodia gordonii​ before backing out​ due to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ​which questioned its safety​.

How Olly Began

Olly’s takeover of the gummy category starts with cuteness


05-Apr-2017 By Adi Menayang

Olly is relatively new in the dietary supplement space, launching only in 2015. But today its gummies can be found in 25,000 stores across the nation, from niche ones like GNC to mainstream ones like Target, where the brand started distribution. READ MORE

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