Vol. 5 Num 868 Mon. November 06, 2006  

Grameen Danone Foods opens Wednesday
To offer nutrition-rich cheap yogurts

Grameen Danone Foods Ltd, a joint venture between four Grameen companies and France-based global leader for nutritional food products Groupe Danone, will be opened at a function in Dhaka on Wednesday.

French football star Zinedine Zidane will inaugurate the new company, which will provide nutrition-rich yogurts for children, at the function at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, according to a press release.

The company was established following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between four Grameen companies -- Grameen Byabosa Bikash, Grameen Kalyan, Grameen Shakti and Grameen Telecom -- and Groupe Danone on March 16, 2006.

Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, also founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and Franck Riboud, chairman and chief executive officer of Danone, signed the MoU.

The ceremony marks the start of production at the first plant of the company in Bogra this month.

The plant, which has been set up on a 700-square metres of land at Banani Betgari near Bogra town, will produce 3,000 kg of yogurt in the first year, increasing to 10,000 kg in the third year.

With the brand name of 'Shakti Doi', the initial price of each cup containing 80 grams of yogurt has been fixed at Tk5, in view of the affordability of the low-income group.

The initial investment in Grameen Danone Foods is Tk7.5 crore, and the total investment will be Tk25 crore. If the factory in Bogra proves successful, 50 additional plants will be set up in the next 10 years in different remote areas of Bangladesh.

The small-scale factory will create business opportunities for local people, by sourcing raw materials and marketing of products locally. The milk needed for production will also be produced locally.

Grameen Danone will produce international standard yogurt from full cream milk. This yogurt will contain such ingredients as protein, vitamins, iron, calcium and zinc to fulfil the nutritional needs of the children.

Initially the company will market and distribute its products to low income groups in the larger Bogra area. It will promote 'Shakti Doi' as a product to help children grow healthy and strong.

The main objective of the company will not be profit maximisation, but eradication of poverty by creating job opportunities for the poor. The companies that comprised Grameen Danone have already agreed not to take any profits of the company, but use the profits for creation of new opportunities for the welfare and development of people.

Grameen Danone is designed to be environment-friendly and the yogurt will be sold in special biodegradable cups. Although the factory will use natural gas, special efforts will be put to use biogas and solar power to minimise the use of natural gas.