Dairy Dialog podcast 92: Danone, Food Union, SwissDeCode, Digi.Bio

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Dairy Dialog podcast 92: Danone, Food Union, SwissDeCode, Digi.Bio  Pics: Danone, Food Union, Getty Images/pixinoo
Dairy Dialog podcast 92: Danone, Food Union, SwissDeCode, Digi.Bio Pics: Danone, Food Union, Getty Images/pixinoo

Related tags Danone Ice cream Dairy Infant formula Sustainability

Guests on the podcast this week are Normunds Staņēvičs, CEO of Food Union, Europe; Paul Kennedy, global nature & sustainability manager, Specialized Nutrition at Danone; and Federico Muffatto, CEO at Digi.Bio and Brij Sahi, co-founder & CEO at SwissDeCode.

Pics: Danone, Food Union, Getty Images/pixinoo

Danone baby formula production facility in Ireland gets carbon neutral certification

Danone has announced that its facility in Wexford, Ireland, is the first baby formula production site in the world to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust, an independent global climate change and sustainability consultancy.

The company said this is a step towards achieving the company’s goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

Danone Wexford is located in one of the world’s sustainable grass-fed dairy sectors and employs 350 people. It produces brands including Aptamil, Cow & Gate and Nutrilon for consumers in 41 countries around the world.

Danone said the plant sustainably manufactures baby formula in several ways.

It is curbing carbon emissions, as the plant sources 100% renewable electricity and uses a biomass boiler powered by sustainable wood fuels. This has resulted in 10,000 tons of CO2​ savings compared to the plant’s emissions in 2010, representing a 70% reduction in its direct carbon footprint, whilst doubling its production volumes since then.

Since the end of 2019, the remaining direct carbon emissions of the plant have been fully offset with Gold Standard certificates.

Danone said it is also implementing digital technologies for efficiencies and sustainability performance: the facility has developed a digital roadmap that includes initiatives to become a paperless site, using drones for monitoring inventory and innovative technologies for monitoring energy.

The company said it is supporting local economy, as the sustainable wood fuel powering the boiler is sourced from the local wood chipping industry.

Danone said it also contributes to regenerative agriculture practices in Ireland, and has achieved zero-waste to landfill.  All waste from production processes or packaging materials is recovered.

Emmanuel Faber, chairman and CEO of Danone, said, “Our One Planet. One Health frame of action puts climate at the core of our growth model. The carbon neutral certification of Danone Wexford is an excellent illustration of implementing climate action to protect health of the planet and of the people.

“It is also a step towards realizing our commitment to achieving zero net carbon emissions across our entire value chain by 2050 and I truly want to congratulate our people in Wexford for realizing an ambitious vision set more than 10 years ago. This is only a first step and we should accelerate even more to create a low-emissions, climate resilient future. It is through key investments like this one that we take a step forward towards reaching this ambition.”

In 2019, Danone inaugurated a new sustainable, energy and water efficient production facility for baby formula in the Netherlands and announced an investment of NZ$40m (US$25.9m) towards achieving 100% carbon neutrality of its spray drying plant for baby formula in New Zealand.

Danone said it is also committed to reducing the climate impact of its other baby formula production site in Macroom, Ireland, which relies on natural gas for its energy needs.

In 2015, Danone committed to zero net carbon emissions across its full value-chain by 2050 and to reduce scope 1, 2 and 3 emission intensity by 50% for 2030. In September 2019, Danone joined 86 other global companies in signing the Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge. The company has also reached the peak of its full scope carbon emissions, five years ahead of its original plan and commitment and one year prior to the 1.5°C Science-Based Targets commitment.

The company also announced a €2bn ($2.3bn) climate acceleration plan to fund the transformation of its agriculture, energy and operations, packaging and digital capabilities between 2020 and 2022.

New partnership strives to tackle milk fraud with automated testing platform

Dutch digital biology firm Digi.Bio and DNA detection company SwissDeCode are joining forces to accelerate the automated detection of milk fraud.

The product of this partnership is a platform that consists of an integrated hardware device and embedded software that allows milk validation analysis to be performed autonomously at the point of need, delivering certified results without requiring technical personnel.

“We will leverage the power of digital microfluidics to automate testing assays and bring the precision of DNA-testing from molecular biology laboratories to production sites in the milk industry,”​ Federico Muffatto, CEO at Digi.Bio, said.

The platform will allow companies in the dairy sector to quickly verify the authenticity of milk, by detecting, for example, undeclared milk of other species mixed in the sample tested. This will prevent delays, disruptions to the supply chain and food recalls.

“Milk adulteration is a common issue, which we have come across in our interactions with the food industry during the past few years. We are excited that our partnership will bring a new solution for this problem,”​ Brij Sahi, co-founder & CEO at SwissDeCode, said.

Amsterdam-based Digi.Bio is a digital biology company with a vision to make biology programmable. It develops tools and technology that allows highly controlled manipulation of droplets using electrowetting and digital microfluidics to execute complex laboratory workflows.

Its technology requires no pumps, no complex chip designs; and employs programmable biochips where one chip can support many applications.

SwissDeCode was founded in 2016, after the co-founders developed DNA detection solutions to improve the integrity of the food supply chain.

With several rapid testing kits already in the market, the company has been helping companies in different parts of the food supply chain to detect food contamination and adulteration earlier, to avoid food recalls and to ensure customers can trust their products.

Food Union launches more than 100 new ice cream products

Food Union, a global dairy production and distribution group headquartered in Latvia, is using insights from sensory and behavioral research and development to launch new products into northern Europe.

The company has prepared more than 100 novel products for the upcoming summer season that feature exclusive flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits. The launches will take place in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Romania, Belarus, and Russia.

“We have built research and design deep into the DNA of our company and have ambitions to test and invent new products while upholding the highest standards of taste, quality, and nutritional value,”​ said Normunds Staņēvičs, CEO of Food Union, Europe.

“We prioritize sensory innovation and behavioral science to identify what consumers demand at a time when disruptive changes have increased the need for joy, comfort, and nutrition from trusted brands. Consumer-centered innovation will always be at the core of our product strategy and business model.”

Food Union said its research points to five key trends in 2020 products: flavor fusions and culinary complexity; guilt-free gourmandise; seasonal signatures pure to nature; delicious disruption; and plant-based alternatives.

In the first category, examples of its flavor fusions are Ekselence Macchiato, which mimics the experience of an espresso with a dash of frothy milk, available in Latvia; and Ekselence Mini Pistasj & Makroner, pistachio-flavored ice cream, covered in milk chocolate and sprinkled with chunks of macarons. Its mini Kaffe Latte variant, available in Norway, consists of coffee-flavored ice cream, dipped in coffee sauce and two layers of chocolate.

Gammeldags Flode, for the Danish market, is a bourbon vanilla ice cream with a coconut twist, dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with almonds and coconut flakes.

In Estonia, Premia a Pavlova Cake ice-cream in a small cone is being launched.

Under the guilt-free banner, Food Union is launching Lokki Ju, a salt caramel guilt-free ice cream in Norway, as well as a blueberry & lavender variant.

For the seasonal signatures trend, in Latvia, the company is introducing OM, a pear, lemon and ginger smoothie ice cream; Jattis, a vanilla-raspberry stick, available in Belarus; and Sarafanovo, a mango sorbet stick, for the Russian market.

‘Delicious disruption’ has led to a launch in Estonia, Tumehelbeke Snowflake, which is wrapped in a black waffle, as well as Premier, an ice cream with tutti-frutti flavor filled with popping stardust, which will be available in Denmark.

Fulg De Nea is a coconut ice cream in black cone, available in Romania, while Klasika is a peach-flavored ice cream with watermelon sprinkles, available in Lithuania. For the Norwegian market, Dobbel is a chocolate ice cream with sea salt crisps in the outer layer.

To cater to those looking for plant-based alternatives, Premier Is VegaNice is a vegan ice cream alternative cone with mint and chocolate ice cream, available in Denmark.

Company ventures into e-commerce

Food Union has also launched an e-commerce distribution service in four European countries, delivering ice cream, dairy products, pastry and frozen food directly to customers.

It will now deliver products straight from production in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Denmark. The company said its consumer behavior analytics models and established door-step-delivery systems in Norway and Denmark allowed for rapid development and expansion of the new e-commerce distribution system in other markets.

 “COVID-19 has done more to change consumer habits and behavior than any event in modern history. We’re moving rapidly to demonstrate operational agility, create new delivery services, and meet our customers’ needs,”​ Staņēvičs said.

“We know we can bolster our brand and build trust by ensuring consumers enjoy their favorite products safely and quickly. We are thrilled to connect with our customers in a new way. From production to delivery, we are responsible for the whole value creation chain and guarantee the highest quality products while striving for the best, most efficient service possible.”

Food Union created secure e-commerce platforms with various product offerings in four European markets. Their new digital delivery service includes insights from local markets across Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Denmark. Each online storefront offers unique products, ensuring consumers have their branded products 24/7, directly from the production chain.

Premia.lt is a Lithuania-based e-shop launched in March that established a nationwide delivery service for ice cream, frozen products and dairy products.

Pienaveikals.lv, an e-shop in Latvia launched at the end of April and now offers delivery services in the capital city Riga and locations up to 50km away. Products include fresh dairy, ice cream and frozen food, along with other products, which are provided by partner suppliers in Latvia.

Vreaualpin.ro, based in Romania, launched its e-shop in late April and has a 24-hour delivery service for three main cities in Romania: Bucharest, Ilfov and Cluj. Its products include ice cream, frozen foods and pastries.

Hjem-is.dk, an e-shop based in Denmark, has added a new e-shop and continues to offers nationwide door-step-delivery. Their new e-shop platform launched in early May.

“Food Union constantly strives to be dynamic and agile. Our goal is to diversify sales channels while ensuring our products are geographically closer to consumers. Our team of in-country heritage experts applied their knowledge of local markets to provide the products our customers love across various countries and regions,”​ Staņēvičs said.

Food Union sells its products in the Baltics, Denmark, Norway, Romania, Russia and Belarus.

The Food Union Group’s shareholders include its founder and global head, Andrey Beskhmelnitsky; the Hong Kong-based investment company, Meridian Capital Limited; and Asian private capital firm PAG.

Meridian Capital Limited and PAG became Food Union shareholders in 2015 and 2018, respectively, to finance the construction of two dairy plants in China and facilitate the company’s expansion to the market.



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