France's leading food group, Danone has restructured its portfolio several times in recent years to concentrate on what are now four key market sectors, each of which places it in direct competition with Swiss giant Nestlé. It is already the world #1 in fresh dairy foods, with a strong collection of healthy and innovative yogurt-based products. Key brands include Activia, Actimel, Oikos in the US and a large collection of kids brands including Petit Gervais and Danonino. More recently Danone established a commanding position in plant-based dairy-free too with the acquisition of US-based WhiteWave - makers of Silk soy milk, So Delicious, Alpro and other brands. The group also has a partnership in Russia with Unimilk and in China with local dairy giant Mengniu (though it is reported to be moving towards the sale of its 10% equity stake in that company in 2021). Building upon this platform, Danone has also established itself as one of the leaders in global infant foods and also adult medical nutrition, with key regional brands including Aptamil, Nutricia, Bledina, Cow & Gate, Milupa and SGM. Aptamil is actually Danone's single biggest brand by sales. However, its best known is probably Evian, the flagship of its bottled water business. Other brands include Volvic, Badoit and a large collection of local brands including Indonesia's Aqua, which is the world's single biggest selling bottled water by volumes. Danone is the world #2 in this sector, having lost its lead to Nestlé as a result of serious challenges in key markets such as the US (where Danone trades as Dannon) and in China. In the US, Danone transferred distribution and merchandising rights for its flagship Evian brand in 2018 to Keurig Dr Pepper. Danone has steadily sold off what was once a large collection of other businesses, including beer, cheese and sauces. In the most significant such disposal, Danone agreed a deal in 2007 to sell its biscuits and crackers brands, a sector in which it was the worldwide #2, to its main rival, Kraft. Group revenues slipped 7% in 2020 to €23.6bn, with all three divisions reporting a decline in sales. However, net income edged up slightly to just under €2.0bn. What the group now calls Essential Dairy & Plant-Based Foods - formerly fresh dairy - is the biggest business by far, accounting for just over half of sales. Specialised Nutrition contributed 31% and Waters the remaining 15%. Emmanuel Faber was chairman & CEO of Danone but departed the group abruptly in early 2021 as a result of pressure from investors over the company's stalled performance. His successor was eventually named as Antoine de Saint-Affrique, but he won't be able to join the company until Sept 2021.
Capsule checked 14th April 2021
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Who are the competitors of Danone? In dairy products, competitors include Nestle, General Mills, Muller and Meiji Dairies, and of course supermarket private label brands. In water, competitors include Nestle, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Rivals in infant nutrition include Nestle, Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson (now owned by Reckitt Benckiser). See Food Sector and Beverages Sector for other companies
Historical profile information for Danone
Marketer Moves 18th May 2021: New CEO confirmed at Danone. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Mar 2021: "Drink True". So long, dancing babies... Danone's flagship mineral water Evian has quietly shifted its global account from longtime holder BETC to Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam. That agency unveils its first work for the brand this week with not one but two powerful campaigns. (Why, though, launch both simultaneously? Seems like a shame not to give each its due.) The more traditional of the pair has teenaged freeskier Manon Loschi takes us on a guided tour into the mountains where Evian is naturally filtered before emerging from its source. However, the starrier of the two spots marks what is probably the first mainstream commercial endorsement by Anglo-Kosovan superstar Dua Lipa, performing a cappella (more or less) for your listening pleasure.
Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Mar 2020: Danone expanded its UK portfolio with the acquisition of a majority shareholding in Harrogate Water, one of the UK's leading homegrown premium mineral water brands, for an undisclosed sum. For the year to Mar 2019, Harrogate Water had sales of almost £22m. It has a particulalry strong profile in the on-trade in restaurants and hotels. The current owners, the Cain family, will retain a minority stake in the business.
Adbrands Daily Update 7th Jan 2020: "Find Nature in the City". VMLY&R's Argentinean outpost delivers a great spot for Villavicencio, Danone's leading local mineral water brand. This may be a concept we've seen before - that old "find your natural well-being in the heart of the city" chestnut - but the agency finds some exciting new ways to illustrate it. Visually it's a stunner. The interesting difference with this particular brand is that its source is located in a protected nature reserve in the foothills of the Andes.
Adbrands Social Media 11th Jun 2019: "The Baby Bare Necessities". The Evian Babies are back after a prolonged absence. Last seen three years ago in 'Evian Baby Bay', they've returned - courtesy once again of original creators BETC Paris - with new sophistication and a nice line in snappy apparel. Let's overlook the slightly shaky CG in a couple of sequences, because the concept is as charming as it ever was.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th May 2018: Ads of the Week: "Konfusion Kitchen". Everyone loves a good Candid Camera gag! Vice's inhouse creative unit Virtue put together this brilliant practical joke poking fun at trendy restaurants which try to keep abreast of every latest food fad. Where better than Copenhagen, a city with more trendy restaurants per square mile than almost any other? It's notionally a promo for Danone's plain and simple natural yoghurt, but you'll have forgotten who the client is within half an hour of watching the film. You won't have any such trouble remembering some of the brilliantly satirical dishes, though, not least slow-cooked ostrich egg, which diners have to cook themselves with an ordinary table lamp.
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