Unilever is raising its profile in the healthy foods market with the acquisition of the Graze snacking brand.

Graze was founded in the UK in 2008 by developers and logistics experts and now employs more than 500 people. Originally delivered direct to consumers, the brand expanded into retail in the UK in 2015 and in the US in 2016, and now has a presence in more than 30,000 retailers across both markets.

Unilever described Graze as an excellent strategic fit for its Food & Refreshment business, adding that it planned to leverage Graze’s tech and e-commerce expertise for its wider portfolio.

“A truly multichannel brand, Graze offers personalisation, convenience and great nutrition, brilliantly meeting the needs of millennial consumers,” said Unilever Food & Refreshment president Nitin Paranjpe.

Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher described the acquisition as a “transformational moment” in Graze’s growth.

“Graze has an incredibly exciting future ahead as part of Unilever and we look forward to working closely with the team to keep on inventing new healthy snacks, as well as continuing to work to understand the role technology can play in improving the food industry.”

Graze rebranded last summer to challenge negative perceptions around snacking. It introduced a new look, replacing the brand’s natural tones with vibrant colours, and a modernised design highlighting the products’ health benefits and flavours.

Graze was majority-owned by US investor The Carlyle Group, with Octopus Investments, Draper Esprit and management owning the remaining share.