Beverage Industry

Sara Lee acquires Tea Forte

January 3, 2012

Sara Lee Corp., Utrecht, The Netherlands, acquired Tea Forté, a Massachusetts-based ultra-premium tea company. The acquisition will strengthen Sara Lee’s expertise and presence in the luxury tea segment, the company said.

“Acquiring Tea Forté fits perfectly into our strategy to spin off ‘CoffeeTeaCo’ as a pure-play coffee and tea company poised for strong growth,” said Jan Bennink, executive chairman of the board of Sara Lee Corp., in a statement.

Tea Forté offers teas in loose-leaf format and in pyramid-shaped infusers. The company posted revenues of $12 million in 2011, and its teas are available in hotels, restaurants and luxury retailers in 35 countries, the company said. Former Museum of Modern Art designer Peter Hewitt founded the company in 2003.

CoffeeTeaCo will retain the current management team of Tea Forté to run the business independently before integrating it into its international coffee and tea operations.

“Tea Forté’s expertise in ultra-premium teas complements our existing business with leading brands across Europe and boosts our innovation capabilities in the tea category,” said Michiel Herkemij, chief executive officer of Sara Lee International Beverage, in a statement.

Sara Lee plans to divide its company into two publicly traded, pure-play entities: one focused on the North American meat market and the other focused on the international coffee and tea market. The split is on track to occur during the first half of this year.