Danone gets it done

Tanaaz Jasani
August 11, 2017
14 min read
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Have you ever wondered where your food really comes from? Transparency in our supply chain is a prerequisite for eating healthy. From the farm-to-table movement to organic certification, our passion for healthy alternatives has been a catalyst for transparency into our food. And, Danone, the yogurt behemoth is betting on it.

Danone’s roots in health go all the way back to 1919 when founder Isaac Carasso noticed that children in Spain were suffering intestinal infections. This inspired him to help them by making a kid-friendly probiotic yogurt. Almost 100 years later, this household brand is again pushing the boundaries of healthy living and starting its own food revolution: The Alimentation Revolution. Since 2015, Danone has advocated uniting the food chain from our kitchen cupboards to the producers.

The Alimentation Revolution is meant to bring health through food to as many people as possible. Danone explains their mission through the example of a tree. Danone’s food products contribute as the trunk to the leaves, which represent nine health priorities. There are three main clusters of health focus: building health in the early stages of life, health maintenance, and protecting health during the most vulnerable times.

The roots of the tree are Danone’s actions towards addressing global environmental challenges, such as climate change, waste reduction, and sustainable agriculture. The goal of the Alimentation Revolution is a two part approach. First, the French company aims to help individuals be healthy through their eating and drinking habits. Second, they leverage their might to fight climate change, preserve water cycles, foster sustainable agriculture, and develop responsible packaging. In short, Danone believes in being healthy while improving the environment.

So, how is a large company like Danone bringing us closer to our food? Each of their four business lines have taken an innovative stance in its business model, making the focal point consumer health.

How sweet it is

Shoppers in the U.S. can expect a reduction in the synthetic sweeteners in Danone’s products. They’ve committed to reducing synthetic sweeteners with natural substitutes, like non-GMO sugars and starches. Within the U.S., Danone expects to convert 65,000 acres of farmland to non-GMO crops by end of 2018.

Moo-ving the needle on animal welfare

Danone’s Fresh Dairy Products in the U.S. have pledged to work with farmers on water and soil management. They have pledged to ensure the wellbeing of cows that supply the milk for their products, like Dannon, Oikos, and Danimals. Currently, more than 90% of Danone’s milk comes from farms that are Validus-certified. Validus is an independent certification company that works with farmers and producers to ensure responsible on-farm production practices are used.

Water, water everywhere

Moving out of the developed markets of the U.S. and traveling to the far east, Danone is addressing clean water access. Danone’s Aqua products have a sweet spot for Indonesia, where 33 million people lack access to safe water. Creating one’s own water well or access route to clean water just isn’t possible for most. As the country’s number one producer of bottled mineral water, Aqua is taking advantage of its large consumer base to provide water access programs to Indonesian residents, educating over 135,000 people on the benefits of clean water – hydration in particular.  

However, innovation isn’t always easy. Producing and selling water bottles creates another dilemma: Wasteful plastic. In a country where recycling is not institutionalized, plastic can end up as piles of waste in public areas. Aqua has taken steps to partner with local nonprofits in order to raise awareness towards collecting and recovering plastic packages. Their goal: To collect more plastic than is generated.

All in good health

The beauty of Danone’s Alimentation Revolution is that it not only has a global reach, but also generational span. It’s Medical Nutrition arm is creating products like Fortimel, an oral supplement to combat undernourishment in patients suffering from chronic diseases. According to the World Health Organization, noncommunicable diseases, like cancer, are expected to increase by 17% in the next decade. Nutritional supplements can help facilitate recovery and provide recovery support. Services like Fortimel, not only help patients, they are catering to growth given the current health trends.

Breakfast of champions

At the other end of the spectrum, conception to two years old is considered critical for a healthy life. According to the USDA, iron deficiency is a common nutritional problem for young children. Danone’s Early Nutrition arm is working to end the circle of anemia for children under 5. Danone’s Phosphatine creates an instant cereal that provides 70% of the daily iron requirements for a child.

With us now for a century, Danone is laser focused on our everyday health needs. The growth of the company is inherently linked to better health and nutritional options for the consumer – all while contributing to a better environment. Danone can be found within our Healthy Living portfolio. It is within our portfolio not only because it financially meets our marks, its business model is intricately linked to improving health through the Alimentation Revolution.

Danone’s success with their customer, therefore, likely means better performance of the stock and potential financial gains for Danone’s shareholders. Additionally, due to the Alimentation Revolution, Danone’s success translates to improved choices for healthy food and beverage options, while improving the environment. A true example of merging purpose and profit.

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