Danone is a food and beverage company that operates in three divisions: Fresh Dairy Products, Packaged Waters, and Baby Food and Medical Nutrition.
According to World Wide Fund for Nature’s One Planet Business report, Food accounts for 23% of the global ecological footprint. Within the Food categorization, the Food, Products, Beverages, and Tobacco industry sector accounts for almost 11% of the global ecological footprint while Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry, and Fishing account for 12%1.
Danone has adopted the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s definition of sustainable diet, defined as “those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations.” Moreover, in 2012, Danone developed a sustainable agricultural evaluation tool (DanRISE) that integrates its own research with tools developed by external sources. In 2013, the group piloted the tool in six countries and is planning to release group-wide Sustainable Agriculture principles in 2014. Targets for the future will be set in 2015.
According to the World Health Organization, by 2015, it is estimated that over 1.5 billion people will be overweight2. If recent trends continue, projections forecast that by 2030, 2.16 billion people will be overweight and 1.12 billion will be considered obese3.
Danone’s (Nutrition)² program promotes and creates awareness of healthy lifestyles. The results and impacts of the program are validated by the Center of Studies for Child Nutrition. During 2013, the program successfully reached more than 80,000 children and adults.
Packaging plays an important role in the environmental impact of food and beverage products. Packaging that contains recyclable or post-consumer recycled content, or minimizes the use of materials, gives companies the opportunity to reduce their environmental footprint by reducing their waste output. Companies that introduce eco-friendly packaging in their products will be at an advantage in mitigating their environmental impact.
Danone has a wide range of packaging goals. More than a quarter of Danone’s packaging is produced from recycled materials. Within the company’s Waters division the company intends to achieve a rate of 25% recycled PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) by 2020; in 2013 the average rate of recycled PET incorporation in the Waters division was 9%.
The use of ingredients from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food is not supported by consumers in many countries. Some consumers hold concerns over the risks that GMOs pose to human and environmental health. Currently 64 countries around the world require labeling of GM foods and the demand for increased transparency is growing. Danone does not use ingredients from genetically modified plants in its products, except in countries like the U.S., where “public concern on the subject remains limited and large-scale agricultural production of GM crops makes it difficult to obtain supplies of non-GMO products.” Portfolio 21 would like Danone to take a stronger leadership position by applying a group-wide exclusion on the use of genetically modified ingredients.
To the best of our knowledge the above information is accurate and was obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Neither the information presented above nor any opinion expressed shall be construed as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy the security. The views expressed are those of portfolio management as of 8/31/14 and may not reflect current opinions or subsequent events.