PARIS — Danone SA is employing two strategies to further the success of its Essential Dairy and Plant-based (EDP) business. Expanding plant-based yogurt alternatives into other eating occasions is one. Whittling down the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) in Europe is the other.
In the EDP business, 2022 fiscal-year sales of €14.80 billion ($15.69 billion) were up 13% from €13.09 billion.
“In plant-based, we are broadening our yogurt offering to cover more segments and occasions from indulgent to functional,” said Antoine Bernard de Saint-Affrique, chief executive officer, in a Feb. 22 earnings call. “Combining Danone’s historical know-how in fermentation and manufacturing with our plant-based expertise provides us with the capability to lead the plant-based yogurt market.”
Companywide, Paris-based Danone achieved net income of €959 million ($1.02 billion), or €1.48 ($1.57) per share on the common stock, in the fiscal year, down 50% from €1.92 billion, or €2.94 per share, in the previous year.
Net sales reached €27.66 billion, up 14% from €24.28 billion in the previous year and up 8% on a like-for-like basis. Pricing was up 9%. Volume/mix decreased 0.8%, but excluding the exit from Russia, it was up 0.2%, Mr. de Saint-Affrique said.
Fiscal-year sales in Specialized Nutrition increased 15% to €8.32 billion from €7.23 billion. Fiscal year sales in Waters were €4.54 billion, up 15% from €3.96 billion.
In North America, fiscal-year sales of €6.71 billion were up 21% from €5.56 billion. In the fourth quarter EDP sales in North America increased 11% behind International Delight in coffee creamers, Activia and Oikos in yogurt, and Silk in plant-based.
“Building on the successful turnaround of EDP, the US and Canada teams have further strengthened their business, which showed significant acceleration in '22,” Mr. de Saint-Affrique said. “They have done it by applying sharp revenue growth management, building on clear streamlines for each brand and portfolio choices, and being obsessive about great execution.”
In Europe fiscal-year sales increased 5% to €8.77 billion from €8.34 billion driven by Specialized Nutrition and Waters. In the fourth quarter, EDP increased 2.2%. Volume/mix in the quarter fell 6%.
“We are engaged in the transformation and the repositioning of our EDP portfolio in Europe,” Mr. de Saint-Affrique said. “We started this journey in the back end of '22. This work is not about short-term and easy fixes but about making sure EDP Europe get back to where it belongs, becoming, again, a growing competitive and innovative business.”
He said Danone in Spain will drop to 5 dairy brands from 10. The number of brands in Morocco will decrease, too. In France, Danone will refocus Activia from being a holistic yogurt brand to one that focuses on gut health.
In China, North Asia and Oceania, fiscal-year sales of €3.43 billion were up 14% from €3.01 billion. Rest of the World sales for the fiscal year were €8.75 billion, up 19% from €7.37 billion.
In the fourth quarter Danone companywide had sales of €7.01 billion, up 12% from €6.24 billion in the same time of the previous year.
Danone executives in 2023 expect like-for-like sales growth between 3% and 5%. Inflation should continue in 2023 but at a lower pace than in 2022, Mr. de Saint-Afrique said.
“Gas in Europe is decreasing very fast over the last weeks, but the situation remains relatively volatile,” he said. “So we are confident that, yes, inflation would be lower.”