Danone is also staying top of class this 2022 edition, in the Best Food Brand category. We discussed the company’s win with Rick Nijhuis, Marketing Director of Danone (Waters, Alpro & Dairy).
Danone is number 1 in the Best Food Brand category once again. How do you explain this longevity? We’re very humbled, and proud, to indeed win for the 3rd time in a row. It seems like the direction we’ve taken for the brand, to celebrate our local anchoring and local collaboration with our dairy farmers, is resonating with consumers. Since last year we’ve continued to highlight our Belgian bond, via partnerships with Hoogstraten strawberries, collaborations with retailers like the Belhaize program, and by bringing our popular ‘Fruix’ yoghurts back into our Rotselaar factory. Last year, the Danone brand also joined the Waste Warriors brands movement launched in Belgium by Too Good To Go to fight food waste. How do you stay in touch with your consumers? We do social listening, invite them to our brand events, and also listen carefully when we make changes to our products. When bringing our ‘Fruix’ range back to Belgium, we had to replicate the taste profile they were used to, whilst signaling it may not be an identical twin, as we would be using Belgian milk and produce in our production site in Belgium (Rotselaar). And all these natural elements have a unique character. But by testing with consumers, we struck the right balance.
Has Danone witnessed a change in consumer behavior or trends since Covid-19? Absolutely. Consumer have veered towards brands they trust and that are local in nature. Danone certainly fits those trends.
Is becoming more hybrid a focus at Danone? At Danone we want to foster heathier and more sustainable eating habits. In this philosophy there is space both for dairy and plant-based options which are complementary. We do believe that flexitarian diet, which is more plant-based than animal-based, will become the norm, and yes, we believe our Alpro and Provamel brands have a key role to play to deliver delicious products in this space.
Sustainability remains a hot topic. Does Antoine De Saint-Affrique, your new CEO, have sustainability matters at heart alike the previous CEO? Sustainability is part of our DNA since the 70’s where we launched the dual social & economical project acknowledging we have a responsibility towards our full ecosystem (beyond the walls of our offices & factories). Sustainability will remain an essential pillar of our history and we have committed in our bylaws to generate a positive social & environmental impact as part of our B Corp certification journey. Packaging, climate change & food waste are some of the key topics we defined targets and where consumers except us to take a clear responsibility.
Rick Nijhuis, Marketing Director Danone
How does Danone stay transparent with its consumers in terms of sustainability? Transparency is an essential pillar in the B Corp certification and an expectation of consumers. Each time our brands are progressing in our sustainability agenda, we communicate about it to engage the consumers towards more sustainable habits. For example, Oikos and Look Smell Taste logo on the pack invite consumer to also eat the product after the date. Or the sorting logo on the pack invite the consumers to also put the yoghurt cups in the blue bag, so it can be recycled. Do what you say and say what you do, with clear facts and figures is our mantra.
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