October 1, 2015 / 5:56 PM / 3 years ago

Unilever buys premium Italian ice cream maker GROM

MILAN (Reuters) - Consumer goods giant Unilever has agreed to buy Italian ice cream maker GROM, adding another premium brand to its frozen product offering after the acquisition of U.S.-based Talenti less than a year ago.

The move announced on Thursday comes as increasingly health-conscious consumers move away from large ice cream tubs to up-market brands with more unusual or healthier ingredients.

Unilever is the world’s biggest ice cream maker with well-known brands such as Magnum, Algida and Cornetto.

In its 67 outlets in Italy and abroad, GROM serves flavors such as Lemon & Ginger, Caramel and Himalayan pink salt and vanilla from Madagascar.

“GROM’s clients will continue to taste the same flavors and the same ice cream taste they love,” Kevin Havelock, President of Unilever’s Refreshment Category said, adding the consumer products group would help the Italian firm enter new markets.

The GROM business will remain independent and managed by its founders from Turin, Unilever and GROM said in separate statements.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Italian brand was founded in 2003 in Turin by two friends who pledged to make ice cream “like it used to be made”, using fresh seasonal fruit, and without artificial aromas, thickening agents or coloring.

The success of GROM inspired others in Italy where a wave of new ice cream parlors has opened in recent years.

Turin, in the Piedmont region, is also the home base for other well-known Italian food companies such as Ferrero and Eataly.

Unilever, which is a supplier of food and personal care goods, also operates gourmet tea retailer T2.

Additional reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by David Evans

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