Danone Unveils $5bn Plant-Based Sales Strategy

PARIS, France — Danone is launching a plant-based Acceleration Unit to create further growth opportunities across the company and increase its global plant-based sales from €2 billion to €5 billion by 2025.

The global food corporation, known predominantly for manufacturing dairy and plant-based alternative products, has said the unit will seek to leverage Danone’s plant-based expertise in categories such as baby food and healthy ageing food solutions, and by pivoting more of its large brands into the plant-based sector. It will also look to expand its plant-based category throughout Europe.

Speaking about the strategy, Emmanuel Faber, Danone Chairman and CEO, made special mention of the company’s global and North American Essential Dairy and Plant-Based (EDP) teams for their work over the last three years in integrating plant-based foods and beverages manufacturer WhiteWave into the company. Since the $12.5 billion acquisition, Danone has enjoyed an acceleration of sales growth, thanks to its portfolio of brands, including Silk, So Delicious, Vega, and Alpro. It has also expanded its own product portfolio to include additional plant-based lines such as Good Plants and a coconut milk-based version of its Oikos yoghurt. 

Now, Faber commented: “It is the right moment for Danone North America to start another exciting phase of development and to fully participate, as the largest B Corp in the world, to Danone’s sustainable value creation agenda, while deploying our ‘One Planet. One Health’ framework of action.

A post-COVID future
However, despite its recently-released first-quarter results revealing stronger than expected figures, with the company’s EDP unit experiencing a net sales rise of 4.6% for the first-quarter of the year, Danone is still cautious of what the landscape will look like post COVID-19.

“The first quarter of 2020 will long be remembered as the time of an unprecedented pandemic, which may change the way we live and do business for a long time ahead,” acknowledged Faber — noting that now, more than ever the company’s success will depend on the strength of its business ecosystem.

With that in mind, the company has also set out plans to accelerate the climate action of its brands and strengthen its growth model for the future.

With an accelerated investment plan of around €2billion cumulative over the 2020-2022 period on brands, climate and agriculture, packaging and digitalization, the business aims to build what it believes will be the most attractive business platform in the food industry — including greater recognition from consumers for climate-proofing actions, and the creation of a virtuous circle that fuels a superior growth model and unlocks value further and faster.

“We believe that, in the post-COVID 19 world, these factors will be even more important to our customers and consumers,” said Faber.