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Steering with partners

Building better solutions through partnerships


We seek to pioneer a new kind of business relationship. One that co-creates and even co-owns solutions with non for profit organizations, the public sector, local stakeholders, other companies and academics.

We believe this approach will bring the greatest benefit to both Danone and our partners. Co-creation, open source practice and mutual benefit business models are already transforming our business practices, broadening our vision and enriching the different ways we operate. Every day, this unique way of doing business not only brings us a unique competitive advantage it also delivers new inclusive business models with greatly improved social, environmental and economic impacts.

So far, we have established several kinds of co-creation mechanisms including partnerships, alliances and mixed boards. We will continue to experiment with new models and enthusiastically participate in the invention of new business practices.

"NOT ALONE, BUT WITH PARTNERS AND FRIENDS" “We will stand firmly by our belief that it is better to walk together than apart, by engaging always with more consumers and more communities, in our common quest to find better health through better food, for the greatest number." Danone Manifesto
Partnerships Alliances Governance Pragmatism and continuous improvement

Building strong partnerships with non-profits and academics

Danone has built many long-standing partnerships with local experts, national and international non- profit organizations and academic partners. This collaborative journey started to accelerate in 2008 with the signature of the first partnership agreement between NGOs and business for the protection of wetlands. This partnership between Danone, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was targeted to support disadvantaged rural communities in developing countries to restore their natural ecosystems.

These partnerships are essential if our programs are to succeed as they marry global expertise with the needs of local communities. All our social innovation projects are co-created with local NGOs, partners and communities as we believe this is the key to success on the ground. To ensure we deliver results these projects undergo monitoring, qualitative and quantitative impact studies conducted with academic partners (HEC, MIT D lab, ESSEC...). We are also building partnerships with universities, schools (such as Sc Po Paris) and banks so we can do more. Our recent partnership with IDB on inclusive recycling in South America is a good example of this inclusive approach.

Joining forces to create more responsible businesses through partnerships and alliances with other companies

We believe that working in partnership with other companies will help us create a more responsible business. These partnerships take place in inter-professional organizations such as Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI) which is a global food chain initiative for sustainable agriculture. 

To support the efforts of poor rural communities in developing countries who are restoring their natural ecosystems, the Livelihoods Fund gathered nine partner companies, including Danone: Schneider Electric, Crédit Agricole, Michelin, Hermès, SAP, CDC Climat, La Poste, Firmenich and Voyageurs du Monde. In 2015, this successful fund was extended to sustainably transform company supply chains while supporting smallholder farmers: Danone and Mars created Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming recently welcomed Firmenich and Veolia and is open to new partners able to extend the benefits further. 

Danone also builds innovative global alliances with strategic partners, such as Veolia, to focus on natural resource management in order to meet the challenge of climate change.


Bringing the outside through open advisory boards

To reach its healthier future ambitions, Danone established an advisory board for external experts to provide governance advice around the core decisions we take on specific topics linked to sustainability. To build our ‘Nature’ strategy and maintain it relevant to our stakeholders, we created a consultative committee called the Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) Board. 

This permanent committee, composed of ten external sustainability experts, forms part of our Nature 2020 strategy around agriculture, packaging, water and climate. We also have a separate Guidance Committee for the Danone Ecosystem Fund, including members of the Danone Executive Committee, as well as key figures from civil society politics and trade unions. This committee’s role is to determine the Ecosystem Fund’s overall strategy and investment directives.

Pragmatism and continuous improvement

Building a healthier future means continuously improving what Danone does, and in the process, sparking innovation and inspiring others on our journey. This hands-on pragmatism and small-scale experimental style are key to solving the complex social, economic and environmental challenges linked to our business.  In line with this, we will continuously adapt our plans to meet the needs of the planet, its places and the people we serve. We know that sustainability is an on-going journey and that there are other issues material to our business where we are only just starting to explore the challenges that face us and solutions we need to build, but we are ready to be playing our part.

Here are some of the topics we are currently exploring:

  • Women empowerment : the role of women in agriculture, enterprise and across the Danone value chain is a crucial issue. As Danone we cannot hope to build a healthier future without the unencumbered contribution and involvement of 50% of us: women. Nevertheless women, and especially smallholder female farmers, often face unfair and un-necessary challenges. We have begun a review and solutions finding approach to co-create answers to these challenges.

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  • Animal welfare : healthy cows are essential to provide healthy milk and healthy products. Therefore, animal welfare is a pillar of Danone sustainable sourcing strategy. We are committed to working with suppliers to achieve the best conditions possible for dairy cows and calves. We have set an "Animal Welfare Policy" based on the internationally recognized Five Freedoms developed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behavior, freedom from fear and distress. To support this engagement, we set a process of audit, encourage research and published  an "animal welfare guide" in collaboration with Compassion in World Farming. 

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  • Food waste: according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), approximately one third of global food production intended for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. Aware of our responsibility as a food company, Danone takes a comprehensive approach to addressing food waste reduction all along our value cycles. We endorsed the European collective initiative “Every Crumb Counts,”2 committing  to working toward an overall 50% reduction in food losses by 2020 and we’ve launched concrete initiatives to reduce food losses in areas it controls and influences—not only at its production plants, but also upstream in its supply chain and downstream with customers.