Have you had your yogurt today? If you have, then odds are that you’ve had one of the products produced by Danone.

Danone, sometimes branded Dannon in the United States, is a multinational food corporation that was founded in Barcelona in 1919 but has its corporate headquarters in Paris today. Danone is named after Daniel, the son of the company’s founder Issac Carasso. Danone translates to “little Daniel”. Carasso was a doctor who was passionate about the health benefits of his products. 

Mergers and Acquisitions

Danone is the name of the company, but not for the most obvious of reasons. After the original yogurt producing company of Carasso gobble up cheese maker Gervais and then merged with a bottle producer called BSN, the decision was made in 1973 to change the name to Danone because that brand was the most recognizable. 

Over the years, the company has continued to acquire other food brands, expanding its global reach and its income base much further. The main brands manufactured by Danone are Activia, Alpro, Danino, Evian, Horizon Organic, Nutricia, Volvic, Silk, and Vega. Danone owns more than a dozen brands of dairy related origins. It holds joint ventures with companies in Israel, China, Russia, Bangladesh, Africa, and more. 

A Ripe Target

Because Danone is a mid-sized company with a niche market, it’s been the subject of several controversial potential acquisitions over the years. Among these were an attempted buyout of the company by PepsiCo, as well as nearly being bought by competitors Nestle and Kraft Foods. 

After several failed attempts at buyout, the French government finally stepped in and passed what has now become known as the “Danone Law” to prevent huge conglomerate businesses from buying niche companies like Danone. Despite this law, non-hostile acquisitions have still been rumored involving Danone by the likes of PepsiCo and Kraft. 

Danone has been accused of unfair targeting in its marketing as well, specifically in Turkey, Indonesia, and China where it was censured for advertising to nursing mothers. There have also been cases of batches of Danone products being contaminated with bacteria, though no deaths have ever been reported as being related to Danone products. 

Yogurt for Life

Part of the company’s original foundation had to do with the positive health effects of yogurt. While its founder was a physician, it’s kept its focus on health and wellbeing through global health initiatives as a way to market its brands beyond the traditional advertising methods (which it employs heavily).

The company sponsors the Danone International Prize for Nutrition, which gives grant money to teams of researchers who innovate in the areas of health and nutrition science. The prize has been awarded every two years since 1997. In addition, Danone runs the Danone Institute International, which works towards international integration and collaboration between scientists. There are eighteen institutes around the world that support the development of public health policies and interventions. 

For more than a century and through huge expansion, Danone has gone from a simple yogurt factory to one of the top dairy producers in the world. It’s continued commitment to good health and corporate fidelity has helped to continue to grow.