China is source of growth and innovation: says Danone CEO-Xinhua

China is source of growth and innovation: says Danone CEO

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-15 22:38:00

PARIS, May 15 (Xinhua) -- The thriving Sino-French relationship has been instrumental in Danone's success in China, said the company's CEO in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Danone's journey in China began in 1987, with its first venture into the dairy sector in Guangzhou. "This pioneering step was more than an entry into a new market: it was an expression of our belief in the potential for growth and partnership in China," said Antoine de Saint-Affrique, the French food group's CEO.

In 1992, Danone set up a baby food company in Shanghai, becoming the first company in China to add patented prebiotics to infant formula. In 2000, it opened a factory in Wuxi, becoming the first base in China to produce enteral nutrition products. In 2020, it established an open research center in Shanghai, and a special nutrition factory in Qingdao.

After more than three decades, China has now been Danone's second-largest market globally for six consecutive years.

"Our operations span 10 factories and include over 8,000 employees, contributing significantly to about 11 percent of our global sales as of 2023. In our just-released financial result in the first quarter, our China, North Asia and Oceania Zone delivered a like-for-like growth of 8.9 percent, the highest among all regions," said de Saint-Affrique.

"This success is a direct reflection of the strong economic and trade cooperation between China and France, which has not only facilitated but also accelerated our growth in this dynamic market," he stressed.

As a representative of French companies that have achieved successful development in China, de Saint-Affrique attended the Sixth Meeting of the China-France Business Council held in Paris last week.

"The 60-year mark of diplomatic ties between China and France is a testament to a rich and dynamic partnership that has fostered economic and trade exchanges. For Danone, this milestone is not only a celebration of historical ties but also a foundation for future collaboration and innovation," he told Xinhua.

China plays a pivotal role in Danone's global strategy, reflecting not only its vast consumer base but also its rapidly evolving market dynamics, he continued.

"It's a country where we have a strong science base, a strong production base, fantastic talents, and therefore it's a country where we innovate in China for China, but also for the rest of the world," he said.

The food, drink, and health sector is highly competitive in China, the CEO of Danone explained. "The diversity and sophistication of Chinese consumers inspire us to continuously adapt and innovate, ensuring we meet their nutritional needs and preferences. This strategic focus is aligned with our mission of bringing health through food to as many people as possible, making China central to our global endeavors."

"Our commitment to the Chinese market is unwavering, as we see it as a source of growth and innovation," he concluded.