Dannon on track with nutrition commitments

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Dannon Co. is well on its way to achieving several of its goals set forth as part of its commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America (P.H.A.), including improving the nutrient profile of its products and investing more than $1 million in nutrition research and education during the first year (July 2013 to June 2014) of its three-year commitment.

“We are pleased with the progress we’ve made,” Mariano Lozano, president and chief executive officer of Dannon, said at the 2015 Building a Healthier Future Summit held Feb. 25 in Washington. “Our commitment to P.H.A. has resonated deeply with our 1,400 employees and has energized nearly all to become ambassadors for nutrition. Having completed year one of our multi-year commitment, we continue to build momentum behind our mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible, and we feel strongly that with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans under development now is the time for a recommendation that Americans eat one yogurt every day. Specific to our P.H.A. commitment, we set ambitious goals and we still have a lot to accomplish in the remaining two years.”

Dannon said it has achieved “noteworthy progress” in three of its four commitment areas, including nutrition research and education, sugar reduction and fat reduction.

The company invested more than $1 million in nutrition education and research, and has committed to invest $3 million in nutrition education and research focused on healthy eating habits by 2016. Dannon said its year one investments were used to develop education programs for health care providers, such as WIC nutrition counselors and consumers on the benefits of low-fat and nonfat yogurt.

“As a company that values education and research, we are investing in behavior change and educational programs that make a positive impact and align with our mission,” said Philippe Caradec, vice-president of corporate affairs at Dannon. “We partnered with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others to support programs that provide health and nutrition education for health care professionals as well as directly to parents and their kids.”

Also during year one, Dannon said it has exceeded some sugar reduction targets. As part of its commitment, Dannon must reduce the amount of total sugar in Dannon products to 23 grams or less per 6-oz serving in 100% of products for children and 70% of the company’s products overall by 2016. Dannon already has met and exceeded its commitment to reduce sugar in products overall, with 76% of its portfolio meeting those standards, and has made progress with 91% of children’s products compliant at the end of year one. Most recently, Dannon introduced a Danimals Squeezables product for children, which is low fat and meets the reduced sugar standard of the P.H.A. commitment.

A third goal Dannon is well on its way to achieving is progress in fat reduction. The company has committed to reduce the amount of fat in Dannon products, so that 75% of products will be nonfat or low fat, and 69% of products currently meet that standard. Dannon recently launched Oikos Triple Zero Greek yogurt, which also complies with the commitment, containing zero added sugars, zero artificial sweeteners and zero fat.

Despite its successes on several fronts, Dannon said it failed to make any progress during year one on its goal to improve overall nutrient density. The company committed to a 10% improvement in nutrient density across its portfolio by increasing important nutrients, such as vitamin D, and decreasing total sugar and fat. And while Dannon progressed on sugar and fat reduction, there was no progress to advance the total nutrient density score due to the changes in the mix of products Dannon sold during the first year of reporting, the company said. Dannon attributed the lack of progress to the evolution of the mix of products it sold to a greater number of products that did not have added vitamin D. Dannon indicated it is confident it will meet the nutrient density component of its commitment by 2016.

“Dannon is extremely proud to stand alongside P.H.A. as a partner, and we look forward to our ongoing collaboration to contribute to a healthier America,” Mr. Lozano said. “We continue to explore education and research opportunities and to improve the nutrient profile of our products, and we encourage Americans to eat one yogurt every day to help improve their diet.”

The P.H.A. is expected to release the yearly progress report for all commitment partners, assessed by an independent verifier, in May 2015.
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