This week, food giant Danone announced it is creating a Plant-Based Acceleration Unit (PBAU), a separate business aimed solely at increasing its global plant-based sales from €2 billion ($2.2 billion) in 2019 to €5 billion ($5.4 billion) by 2025. In 2016, Danone closed a $12.5 billion acquisition of WhiteWave Foods—parent company of vegan brands Silk, So Delicious, Vega, and Alpro. It has since innovated its product portfolio to include additional vegan lines such as Good Plants (part of its Light & Fit brand) and a coconut milk-based version of its popular Oikos yogurt.
The company recently reported its first-quarter 2020 earnings and credited vegan brands (Silk in North America and Alpro in Europe) for a 4.6 percent increase in net sales. To continue the growth of its plant-based business, Francisco Camacho, the vice president of Danone’s Essential Dairy and Plant-Based (EDP) international unit, will be running the PBAU with former Coca-Cola executive, Shane Grant, to take over the Danone North America CEO and executive vice president title on May 11. “I am grateful to our global and North American EDP teams for the great work achieved over the last three years in integrating WhiteWave and our dairy business in the USA and Canada,” Danone Chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber said.
Through its newly formed PBAU, Danone plans to expand into new categories such as coffee, baby foods, and healthy aging solutions, in addition to pivoting some of its larger brands into the plant-based sector. In April, Danone—through its investment arm Danone Manifesto Ventures—invested $10 million into Laird Superfoods, a vegan creamer brand founded by professional surfer Laird Hamilton.