Unilever has been beefing up its functional nutrition and supplement business over the past two years.

In 2018, the multinational acquired GlaxoSmithKline’s Health Food Drinks portfolio in the Asia/Pacific region for US$3.8 billion. The two key brands in the stable are Horlicks, long famed as a sleep-inducing nightcap, and the malt-based food drink, Boost.


The buyout deal centred on India, where Horlicks is an everyday staple, but also covered 20 other markets, including Australia, New Zealand, the Maldives and the Middle East.

In the same year, Unilever acquired a 75 per cent stake in Equilibra, the Italian personal care and well-being company, which specialises in plant-based ingredients with functional benefits.

OLLY, the US gummy vitamin company, was acquired by Unilever in 2019. In September this year, the multinational bought Liquid I.V, the New Jersey-based maker of electrolyte drink mixes with a wellness product range that includes Hydration, Energy and Sleep.

Unilever has kept up its focus on US brands with the acquisition of SmartyPants Vitamins, another vitamin, mineral and supplement brand.


The LA-based company was founded in 2011 by Courtney Nichols Gould and Gordon Gould. Free from synthetic colours, artificial flavours, sweeteners and preservatives, its wide-ranging lineup of supplements for children and adults uses non-GMO certified ingredients and sustainably sourced bio-available nutrients.

SmartyPants products are available in 30,000 outlets in the US, including major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Costco, Whole Foods Market, Amazon and Walgreens.

SmartyPants Vitamins complements Unilever’s portfolio of brands – Horlicks, OLLY, Equilibra and Liquid I.V – in the functional nutrient range, says Peter Ter Kulve, president of health and well-being at Unilever.

“We are excited to work with co-founders Courtney and Gordon and their team to drive their innovative and data driven business model.”

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