Unilever Scoops Up Talenti Gelato Brand

CPG Giant Grows Its Ice Cream Business

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Unilever, the world's biggest maker of ice cream, acquired Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto to expand its frozen offerings and counter sluggish growth among its mainstream food brands.

Talenti, founded in 2003 and based in Minneapolis, will generate more than $120 million in sales this year from flavors like Blood Orange and Caramel Cookie Crunch, Unilever said today in a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Since taking the helm in 2009, Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman has sought to expand the company's $11.7 billion refreshment business, which includes ice-cream brands such as Breyers, Ben & Jerry's and Klondike. In 2011, the company took its Magnum brand from Europe to the U.S., hitting $100 million in sales in the first year. Its last ice-cream deal was the 2011 purchase of Ingman Ice Cream Oy AB. Unilever currently sells gelato under the Breyers brand.

"The acquisition widens Unilever's position in the fast-growing gelato market with its artisanal offerings and its clear, distinct and recyclable packaging," Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said in the statement.

Talenti earlier this year launched its first-ever ad campaign, a digital effort by Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, that includes videos touting the ingredients in Talenti's 26 flavors.

Fallon will continue working for the brand, according to the agency. "It's business as usual," said a Fallon spokeswoman

The growth in ice cream -- Unilever's single-biggest category, according to data tracker Euromonitor -- contrasts with the company's failure to turn around its food business. There, Mr. Polman has been shedding brands including Ragu pasta sauce and Skippy peanut butter.

-Bloomberg News with contributions from Ad Age

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