Unilever Mulls Divesting Tea

Feb. 3, 2020
Unilever is considering selling off its black tea operations, including the iconic Lipton brand.

Unilever is considering selling off its black tea operations, including the iconic Lipton brand, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Unilever’s global tea business has sales of about $3.3 billion, but sales have been flat for years as consumers are turning away from tea. Even among tea drinkers, herbal or fruit-infused teas are becoming more popular. Since 2015, the overall U.S. tea market has either declined or shown growth of less than 2% a year.

“Insanity is carrying on doing the same thing expecting different outcomes,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope told the Journal. “For 10 years we’ve been trying to ignite growth into our tea business unsuccessfully.”

Options include selling the tea business outright or operating it as a joint venture with an outside company.

Unilever’s 2019 revenue was $57.4 billion, a 2% rise over 2018. Profit, at $6.2 billion, was down 40% over 2018, although that figure was affected by the 2018 sale of Unilever’s spreads business.

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