At Danone our mission of bringing health through food is at the heart of everything we do. We know in early life, the right nutrition during a baby’s first 1,000 days is crucial for their lifelong health which is why we focus on giving babies the best nutritional start in life. Breastfeeding is key for this, and like the World Health Organization (WHO) we believe that it must be protected and promoted.
That’s why we support the WHO’s global public health recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of age and continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond, combined with the safe introduction of appropriate complementary foods.
As a leading provider of baby formula, we believe we have a role to play in protecting and promoting breastfeeding by championing responsible and ethical formula marketing practices. In our view we can both support breastfeeding and provide safe, high quality, nutrition if breastfeeding is not an option.
We do so by adopting, implementing and enforcing strict policies to ensure marketing practices do not negatively affect the choice and ability of mothers to breastfeed their babies optimally. As such we are committed to fostering a proactive, constructive and evidence-based dialogue supporting breastfeeding around the world and endorse the principles of openness, transparency and integrity in our advocacy activities.
Whether working at global or local level, we support (and do not to undermine) the World Health Organization's and other agencies' and governments’ efforts to develop and implement the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (WHO Code) the marketing of in national legislations.
POLICIES & PROCEDURES
Danone is the first company to apply a voluntary global marketing policy that prohibits, without exception, the advertising and promotion of infant formula and delivery products (such as bottles and teats) for babies up to six months of age, even if permitted by local laws. In countries classified as higher-risk countries (in terms of levels of infant mortality and morbidity) Danone has voluntarily extended its advertising and promotion prohibition up to 12 months of age, which often goes beyond local legislation. In these countries, Danone also prohibits the promotion of complementary foods and drinks for use by infants up to six months. Find out more here:
When it comes to responsible marketing of baby formula we rigorously monitor, report and review our own efforts. But to ensure our approach is as robust as possible, we also work with qualified, external, third-party experts to provide an independent assessment on how we’re doing. By working with Bureau Veritas, ATNI, FTSE4Good & B Corp, we are able to get a valuable external perspective on what’s working well and what can be improved.
We believe that external monitoring raises the compliance and integrity of marketing practices of individual companies, and ultimately, the entire industry. The results of these external audits conducted by third-party experts are published here:
MORE EXTERNAL EVALUATIONS
Access to Nutrition Initiative Index (ATNI)
In two consecutive rankings of the global Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) Index Danone ranked 1st in the Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes category Index. The ranking reflects Danone’s approach to ethical marketing of breast milk substitutes based on its far-reaching and industry-leading policies to protect and promote breastfeeding. Danone is committed to continue working closely with ATNI and provide all relevant information on its own policies and practices on the marketing of BMS.
FTSE4Good Index Series
Danone is proud to be 1 of only 3 breast milk substitute manufacturers to be certified by the FTSE4Good Index Series, a global responsible investment index series. Inclusion in the index confirms that Danone has been independently assessed according to the FTSE4Good criteria, and meets the requirements to become a constituent of the FTSE4Good Index Series.
The FTSE4Good Index Series is designed to measure the performance of companies demonstrating strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices. The FTSE4Good indices are used by a wide variety of market participants to create and assess responsible investment funds and other products.
REPORTING ON OUR COMPLIANCE
Danone publishes an annual report detailing its compliance with the Danone Policy for the Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. We are committed to doing better every year and everywhere we operate, that’s why we transparently report about our progress in responsible marketing of baby formula based on independent external assessments and our own monitoring.
We might not get everything right all the time but we’re committed to continuous improvement and ensuring accountability for our actions. These reports summarize the progress we have made in implementing our strict global marketing policy for BreastMilk Substitutes (BMS Policy) providing an overview of instances of non-compliance with our policy, both by Danone and partners involved with our products.
Each year, this report, including our internal Annual BMS Summary report, is shared with Danone's relevant governance bodies and executive management teams, such as the Danone board of directors or the audit committee, the president of Danone Specialized Nutrition or and the Danone General Counsel.
BREAST MILK SUBSTITUTES (BMS) CALL TO ACTION
In June 2020, together with UNICEF and several civil society organizations, the WHO published a Call to Action for companies that manufacture breast milk substitutes (formula) to publicly commit and take steps towards full compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (WHO Code) by 2030.
We are convinced of the need for collective action and shared solutions that why later that year we provided our response to the BMS Call to Action as per the process and timeline indicated by the Meridian Institute that is facilitating the Call to Action. Details of our response are accessible here.