Danone buys US functional yoghurt
agreed to acquire a slice of the US functional yoghurt leader,
Groupe Danone, the France-based consumer products company, has agreed to acquire a slice of the US functional yoghurt leader, Stonyfield Farm. Danone is to purchase an initial 40 per cent holding and will later have the opportunity to acquire a majority holding in the company in 2004. Stonyfield became the fourth largest yoghurt brand in the U.S. last year and a leader in organics and natural nutrition. It is currently the number one brand in the U.S. natural yoghurt segment with a turnover of about $85 million (100 million Euros). Franck Riboud, Groupe DANONE's chairman and chief executive officer said, "Through this unique partnership, Danone will build upon and expand Stonyfield's leadership in the U.S. natural and organic yoghurt segment as we provide pivotal assistance in terms of manufacturing, purchasing, logistics and other efficiencies. We believe it is important for Stonyfield to continue to grow its market share while maintaining its commitment to social responsibility. We applaud efforts such as Stonyfield's 'Profits for the Planet' program, in which 10 per cent of the prior year's profits are donated to environmental causes." Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield's chairman, president and chief executive officer stated,"With this precedent-setting agreement, Danone will have the opportunity to participate in the U.S. organic and natural dairy segment, which has enjoyed strong double-digit growth." The transaction is subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions, including receipt of U.S. antitrust authorities approval. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Stonyfield Farm is committed to environmental concerns and has received numerous awards over the years for its waste reduction, energy efficiency, and environmental advocacy efforts. The company donates 10 per cent of its profits to environmental causes and has converted 70 per cent of its products to organic certification.