West Coast New Area

French company Danone confident on China's market prospects

( | 2024-05-09


Sylvain Fourrière, consul general of France in Guangzhou and Qin Peng, chairman of Danone China jointly unveil the two new Aptamil ranges at 2024 CICPE in Hainan. [Photo provided to]

The 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France signifies a remarkable milestone, propelling the friendly ties between the two countries to a new historical stage. As a prominent player in the global food and beverage industry, French company Danone has established a strong foothold in China, contributing to the innovative and sustainable development of the industry it operates.

In the six decades of bilateral ties between the two nations, France has become China's third-largest trading partner and third-largest source of actual investment within the EU, while China is France's largest trading partner in Asia and the seventh-largest globally.

Danone is one of the first French companies to enter China. Over the past 30 years, Danone has witnessed and thrived in the flourishing relationship between China and France while actively contributing to its development and China's quality-driven growth, according to Danone's CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique.

De Saint-Affrique firmly believes that China and France will continue to uphold their comprehensive strategic partnership with a commitment to openness that brings together collaborative efforts and shares developmental opportunities.

"In recent years, as China advances its quality-driven development agenda and nurtures new quality productive forces, French enterprises like Danone have found fertile ground for growth," said de Saint-Affrique.

Danone entered the Chinese market in late 1980s and achieved rapid growth, leveraging the opportunities brought by China's economic reform and opening up. The company's expansion not only reflected its own success but also played a role in advancing China's food industry. Danone was among the first to incorporate patented prebiotics into infant formulas, a significant innovation in the industry at the time. Additionally, the company introduced the concept of "medical nutrition" in China, establishing the first enteral nutrition product factory in Wuxi.

In recent years, the company has again significantly increased its investment and efforts in China. In 2020, Danone ushered in a new era of "innovate in China, made in China" by establishing an open science research center in Shanghai and a special nutrition factory in Qingdao. So far, China has become Danone's second-largest market globally since 2018 and takes 11 percent of Danone's global revenue in 2023, while the region encompassing China, North Asia and Oceania enjoyed the fastest growth among all business regions of Danone globally.

Looking to the future, de Saint-Affrique expects the two country's partnership to generate new opportunities for companies like Danone.

"Danone will keep investing in China, focusing on research and science to accelerate local innovations, embracing smart and digital transformations to upgrade our industries," he noted.

Going forward, the executive pointed out that the firm will focus on health, nutrition and sustainability through consistently investing in renewing factories, digital transformations and other technology, as well as employees.

He highlighted in particular that Danone's sustainability agenda dovetails with China's environmental objectives of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

On the 2024 World Earth Day, Mizone, a vitamin drink brand of Danone, announced the establishment of "One Planet" Climate Action Fund in China, committing more than 30 million yuan ($4.16 million) over the next two years - including financial support and technical guidance - to accelerate the carbon reduction journey across the industrial upstream and downstream.

1 2 >