Vol. 5 Num 636 Mon. March 13, 2006  
Front Page

Grameen teams up with Groupe Danone to set up food plant

Microcredit guru Prof Muhammad Yunus launches a joint venture food enterprise in collaboration with one of the world's major food producers -- Groupe Danone.

Yunus' Grameen Group joins hands with the France-based food producer in setting up a food-producing factory in Bangladesh, primarily to produce and market nutritionally rich dairy products, Grameen officials said yesterday.

Groupe Danone is the world's leader in marketing dairy products and bottled water with its famous brands Evian and Volvic and the second largest in biscuits.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of Groupe Danone Franck Riboud will fly in Dhaka on Thursday to formally announce the setting up of the joint venture project 'Grameen Danone Foods'. Riboud and Prof Yunus will jointly sign an agreement in this regard at a city hotel on the same day.

Grameen's tying up with Danone in food production is considered the most high-profile joint venture business initiative in food sector in Bangladesh.

Though the Grameen Danone Foods project is primarily aimed at producing dairy products, plans of expanding product lines is there, said sources declining to divulge the volume of investment at this stage.

"Initially we're not going for the large factories that Danone have in France. Rather, we'll go for a prototype factory and to start with, we'll produce fortified yogurts (in plastic cups) rich in nutrition value," Director of the Grameen Danone Foods project Imamus Sultan told this correspondent yesterday.

Building on the initial success of its yogurts, which would come in different flavours, the Grameen Danone Foods may venture for producing and marketing bottled water of Evian brand.

Sultan said the factory would be set up in Bogra but the site selection has not been finalised yet.

Danone's product lines include yogurt of Danone, Dannon, Frusion, La Crème and Danimals brands, biscuits, crackers and cookies of LU, Prince, Jacobs, Tiger, Cheese Galbani, Britannia, Vitalinea brands, desserts of Dany brand and bottled water of Evian, Volvic, Wahaha, Aqua, Brio, Villa del Sur, Font Vella, Pure American and many other brands.

In a recent interview Groupe Danone's CEO and Chairman Franck Riboud said, "We are the world leader in dairy products, but we are still present in only around 50 countries and worldwide consumption of dairy products averages under four kilos a year per person, whereas we have been able to raise that to around 30 kilos a year in France and Spain. Everything remains to be done, and we have the strategy and resources to do it."

Having 89,449-strong staff-base worldwide, Groupe Danone had 13,700 million Euros of sales proceeds in 2004 with an operation income of 1,705 million Euros.