Earlier this year, major food company, Danone paid $12.5 billion to acquire WhiteWave Foods, stating that one of their main motivators for the acquisition was WhiteWave’s huge dairy-free brands, like Silk and So Delicious, the makers of dairy-free ice cream, yogurt, creamers, and other products. Danone also invested in a multi-million dollar branding campaign this year for So Delicious which includes the new tagline, “Nothing Compares” – pretty significant for a company that also supports a number of dairy brands.
And it seems like the Danone’s business moves are paying off … big time. Danone recently reported that their North American Essential Dairy and Plant-Based unit showed sales of $1.5 billion, according to their latest earnings reports. That’s up significantly from $738 million for the same period just last year, driving a $760 million dollar profit spike.
As for WhiteWave’s sales as a stand-alone company? Sales for the company rose 4.7 percent to $7.61 billion, compared to last year’s numbers. “This reflects the strength of our portfolio of cohesive consumer health-focused brands and a solid execution against our strategy, with a step-up in innovation and activation plans,” CEO Emmanuel Faber said in the earnings report.
In other words, people want dairy-free options. With the rise in lactose intolerance, milk allergies, growing caution over hormones and antibiotics in dairy, as well as animal welfare and environmental concerns, consumers are actively seeking dairy-free alternatives. The increase in awareness of the benefits of plant-based milk products such as soy and almond milk are also key factors in the industry’s growth.
The plant-based and dairy-free alternative sectors have been seeing a ripple-effect over the last few years that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, plant-based milk is set to reach $16.3 billion in 2018. It seems like Danone clearly understands that investing in plant-based, vegan, and dairy-free alternatives is not only a smart move but a necessary one for food companies that want to stay in touch with consumer needs and trends.
To learn more about the impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias.
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