French multinational dairy company Danone—known as Dannon in US markets—has come to an agreement with the United States Department of Justice to liquidate its holdings in yogurt brand Stonyfield. The agreement was made to avoid antitrust issues (i.e. creating unfair competition between its holdings) and comes after the company’s recent $12.5 billion acquisition of WhiteWave Foods—parent company of plant-based brands Silk, So Delicious, and Vega. Co-founder of food and farm policy watchdog group The Cornucopia Institute, Mark Kastel, tells VegNews that Stonyfield is a “star-player” amongst Danone’s holdings, and relinquishing it is an indicator that its newly acquired plant-based brands promise to bring the company more value. “They’re big, they’re growing, and it’s a lot more profitable to squeeze a few nuts than it is to pay dairy farmers for milk,” Kastel says. Danone’s acquisition of WhiteWave included European brand Alpro, which Kastel says is “leading market share in plant-based products in Europe.” Both US and European markets have experienced exponential growth in the plant-based dairy sector in recent years to the detriment of dairy brands. In addition to Danone, multinational giant Unilever has recently captured a portion of the profitable dairy-free sector by introducing vegan ice cream lines within its Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers brands.
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