Packaging danone

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food & beverage

Quest for perfection

Packaging & converting intelligence


food & beverage

Danone is fuelling growth in its global brands by building a packaging strategy that nurtures bright ideas from inside and outside the company. Jim Banks talks to Gilles Ghnassia and Andy Roberts about how working more closely with partner suppliers is helping toachieve true sustainability.

For a company like Danone, owner of some of the
most familiar global brands in the beverage and dairy food markets and showing rapid growth around the world, a powerful packaging strategy is key to the success of its many products. Through brands like Evian, Volvic, Activia and Actimel, the company is reaching into new markets to help fuel growth of 10% per annum.Not surprisingly, packaging suppliers want to work with Danone and, in turn, the company can look for those partners who are willing to work in a collaborative way towards long-term goals. One of these goals is sustainability in all its many forms. Danone looks at its packaging needs over a five-year time horizon to determine its global packaging strategy, which breaks down into specificpriorities for the food and beverage markets. ‘In the beverage sector, there are real challenges, and among our priorities the absolute number one is improving our profile on sustainability,’ says Andy Roberts, Danone’s VP of Purchasing for the beverage market. ‘The key performance indicator we use for that is our carbon footprint, which is a well established priority.’

as working for our new divisionthat produces baby food and medical nutrition,’ he says. ‘In the dairy sector, our research and development has been restructured around individual brands. The importance of the brand focus is that it means key suppliers play a major role. We rely on their R&D capability, too.’ Danone has integrated three suppliers – two for ingredients and one for packaging – into the top levels of consultancy onproduct and packaging development. The aim is to learn from their experiences and to generate new ideas to feed the innovation pipeline.

A long-term perspective on both product design and packaging enables successful partnerships, providing the framework to build trust and commitment. For Roberts and Ghnassia, open communication between partners is the importantingredient for making In the food a supplier relationship work, as and beverage it allows them to clearly identify mutually advantageous goals. markets, Danone needs to know it is the Industry using the best packaging available must be more in the market, and it is through its InnovatIve key relationships with packaging to Improve envIronmental suppliers that it can ensure it is at performance. theleading edge. While noting the great value that packaging suppliers add to Danone’s product strategy, Ghnassia and Roberts both agree that suppliers could be doing much more to deliver on their company’s top priority – sustainability. They feel that in both the food and beverage markets, the packaging industry must be much more innovative to improve environmental performance. ‘It seems the packagingindustry has sometimes made defensive moves on sustainability,’ Ghnassia says. ‘They are not necessarily the ones who push the issue. The suppliers who can adapt fast will be favoured. This is not a fad.’ ‘Sustainability has become a higher priority over the last few years,’ stresses Roberts, ‘but it has now become our out-andout number one priority. It is key to our business model. We understandthat suppliers need time to respond, and we do try to see ourselves through their eyes, but we are finding that

Danone has worked hard to implement structures that capture and nurture bright ideas, and they seem to work well. For beverages, overall products groups are led by the marketing team, where decisions are made on new or re-engineered products. These decisions...
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