The €100m ($114m) investments include the opening of an open-science research center in Shanghai, the acquisition of local infant milk formula capabilities, and the expansion of capacity to further develop offerings in food for special medical purposes, meaning food for people whose nutritional requirements cannot be met by normal foods.
Also, the company announced its early life nutrition business unit in the country has achieved B Corp certification, to become the biggest B Corp in Asia.
The new Danone Open Science Research Center for Life-Transforming Nutrition will serve as Danone’s platform to conduct studies and research in the region, focusing on breast milk and gut health.
The company said it will be able to develop more relevant nutrition products and services, building on local knowledge and science, and contributing to the country’s ‘Healthy China 2030’ agenda.
The facility will bring together public sector, medical and academic institutions, business partners and consumers, and will combine efforts of more than 100 researchers in the fields of nutrition and consumer science, quality and food safety, and digital innovation.
The investment also includes the acquisition of Murray Goulburn Dairy (Qingdao) Co Ltd from Saputo Dairy Australia. This brings with it a registered infant milk formula brand and a facility in Qingdao. Completed in June 2020, the transaction means Danone now has its first production facility for infant milk formula in China.
The investment will also benefit the company’s advanced medical nutrition facility in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, enabling it to develop protein-based liquid nutritional supplement solutions and expand its food for special medical purpose offerings to nutritionally support healthy ageing and facilitate recovery of patients who are ill.
Véronique Penchienati-Bosetta, executive vice president, specialized nutrition, said, “For some thirty years Danone has been serving the needs of people in China, for both early life nutrition and nutrition for those ill or aged. The opening of the Open Science Research Center, the acquisition of local manufacturing capabilities and the B Corp certification are key milestones for Danone’s presence in China as they will allow us to further invest responsibly in the promotion of healthy and balanced diets, grounded in scientific research and tailored to Chinese nutritional and health needs, habits, and traditions.
“This investment further demonstrates Danone’s belief in the long-term growth potential of the infant milk formula and medical nutrition market in China and in the power of nutrition to positively impact health trajectories.”