The company said an apathetic response in the town of Brive-la-Gaillarde among the over-40, female audience it targets with the product convinced it to shelve plans for a national roll-out.
A company spokesperson observed calcium intakes were higher in France due to greater dairy consumption than Spain and Italy where Densia has made it to national roll-out stage.
“The response of consumers was did not meet our expectations so we decided not to move forward with the roll-out,” she said.
Densia was launched in Spain in August last year and targets older women with osteoarthritis. On the Iberian peninsula it bears the claim: Helps you to maintain your bone density.
Densia comes in 125g pots fortified with 400mg of calcium (50 per cent of European Union Recommended Daily Intake) and 5µg of vitamin D (25 per cent of RDI).
Danone would not reveal sales levels for Densia in Spain or Italy but said they were “healthy”.
While dairy products naturally possess a relatively high level of calcium, additional fortification is common, especially in milk products. Few however are fortified at the level of Densia at least in Europe, although Fonterra have had success with the concept in Asian countries with its Anlene brand.
Mintel trends and innovation consultant, Carla Ogeia Lewis, noted Yoplait had launched a calcium fortified yoghurt called Calin in France in 2007, but it was withdrawn after less than two years.
She observed that Spain was one of the most progressive functional foods markets in the world and that part of the reason it was succeeding there was due to a broader acceptance of functional foods par se.
She warned of the danger that can accompany brand roll-outs that are not highly sensitive to subtle cultural differences among varying European populations.
But even Spain, along with France and the UK, had rejected Essensis, Danone’s beauty yoghurt, which has also been withdrawn.