Responsible company Practices
Safe products and responsible communication are vital in building and strengthening trust with our consumers and stakeholders
Bringing health through food does not only rely on healthier products and promoting healthier behaviors. Our mission also requires that our own business practices help to build a healthier future. Maintaining and building trust with our consumers and stakeholders is core to our ability to fulfil our mission. One way that trust can be preserved is by ensuring that we are responsible when communicating with our consumers – especially children – and to make food safety of our top priority everywhere and at all times.
It is paramount for us to create, manufacture and deliver products that do not compromise food safety. Our Food Safety Policy helps us make sure that products are compliant with local laws and regulations, as well as with stringent Danone Food Safety Compliance procedures at all times. Danone is also actively participating in the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to pioneer the latest research on food safety techniques and processes.
Auditing our compliance
Auditing our compliance helps us to implement corrective action if needed.
In the particular case of communications aimed at children, Danone is audited through its own process Danone Way (audited by PwC), as well as through the numerous local and regional pledges it has joined. In most of the countries involved, compliance with this commitment is certified by an external agency. Other example, regarding the EU Pledge, the TV and Internet media compliance scores are disclosed in Danone’s reportings- Integrated report, Danone Nutrition Achievements leaflet, both disclosed on Danone’s website.
Non-compliances are addressed through an internal response mechanism. At local level for national pledges and at EU Public Affairs level for the EU Pledge. Corrective actions are put in place.
Concerning the marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, we perform self-initiated external audits. Every year, we engage with qualified third-party experts to undertake external audits, we publish their results and follow up on indicated areas of concern. In addition, FTSE4Good commissions thorough verification assessments of our practices together with independent third parties on a regular basis, to ensure compliance with the index’ strict criteria.
RESPECT program for sustainable sourcing
Launched in 2005, our RESPECT program is expanding Danone’s dual commitment to business success and social progress throughout our entire supply chain—except for milk producers covered by the sustainable agriculture program FaRMS.
Through the RESPECT program, all the direct suppliers of certain categories, such as raw ingredients, and bigger suppliers in other categories, such as Services & Goods, undergo a rigorous process of assessment of their social, environmental and ethical performance that increases reliability of the supply chain, conserves our planet's natural resources, and protects the people who work for and with us.
At Danone, we believe that what we do and how we do it are equally important—which is why we have put responsible, sustainable sourcing practices into place throughout our supply chain and made them an integral part of our strategy. We are also a member of the AIM-Progress forum, which contributes to continuous improvement in sustainable purchasing across our industry, and we are an active member of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF).
Under Danone’s Sustainability Principles, we have structured the RESPECT program around social, environmental and ethical fundamentals that are built into our General Terms of Procurement and thus are included in all contracts.
Our objective is to close all non-conformities and improve the suppliers’ sustainability and ethical performance. Nevertheless, in some cases we see no alternative but to terminate the relationship with suppliers that refuse to collaborate.
As a food company, we believe that we have a critical role to play in having a positive role towards public health and nutrition issues through our broad product portfolio. We also believe that our communication and services should help educate consumers about the importance of healthy diets and healthy lifestyles and provide relevant information to healthcare professionals as to the importance of proper nutrition at all ages.
Danone is committed to responsible advertising in compliance with the International Chamber of Commerce Code for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communication and national and regional standards.
Danone’s approach to responsible marketing embraces all paid and unpaid communications developed by Danone, and especially material used to promote its brands or products to consumers.
Danone commits to ensure that its marketing communications are legal, decent, honest, and truthful, with claims having a sound scientific basis. More particularly:
- We ensure that the true commercial purpose of marketing communications is transparent and recognizable as an advertisement; and to clearly differentiate, by labelling, advertising and content on virtual media, including so-called “native advertising”.
- We deliver the nutritional facts that empower consumers and practitioners to make informed dietary choices.
- We place a special emphasis on practical, user-friendly information to support consumers to build healthy diets for themselves and their families.
- We ensure that our information on product benefits is reliable and speaks a language consumers understand.
Working through our industry trade bodies, such as the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), we support the development of general principles in this area, and their integration into advertising and marketing self-regulatory codes and systems around the world.
Our global principles
Danone commits to encourage first and foremost healthy products in the allocation of its marketing spending. 90% of Danone’s sales volumes being in healthy categories, the vast majority of our marketing spendings is on healthy products. Furthermore, thanks to our Nutrition Commitments, we expect our marketing spending on healthy products and healthier alternatives to increase globally in the coming years.
Keenly aware of the prevalence of chronic diet- and lifestyle-related diseases, it is our policy and principle to avoid any type of message that could encourage overconsumption of any of our products or the pursuit of unhealthy lifestyles. We commit to presenting products in a context of a balanced diet.
We also do not use 'size zero' models or actors in our advertising to make sure it does not promote 'unhealthy' slimness. Danone also commits to promoting diversity in its advertising.
 2019 figure. A conversion factor has been applied for all products that are not consumed as such but “reconstituted,” e.g. milk powders that must be added with milk, etc
Communication to children
For children under 12 years of age, research has also shown that marketing communications can influence their purchasing behavior and short-term eating habits.
As a founding member of the EU pledge (2007), and a signatory to the International Food and Beverage Alliance’s (IFBA) global policy on responsible marketing communications to children, Danone has thus restricted its marketing communications to children* below the age of 13 , in order for them to be only exposed to products that meet:
- statutory provisions, national guidelines or widely accepted common industry nutrition standards in place regionally or locally,
- the EU Pledge common nutrition criteria, in the absence of such standards.
From 2021, The EU Pledge common nutrition criteria - with a lower threshold for total sugars for dairy products - will apply to all marketing communications to children globally, substituting any voluntary local standards that are less stringent.
We encourage children’s hydration through direct marketing communications of plain water brands.
We do not direct any marketing communications for low sugar beverages to children below 13 years of age.
A specific pledge is detailed here, and Danone’s principles with regards to marketing to children include:
- no misleading messages,
- no parental influence undermining, but supporting the role of parents or other responsible for guiding diet and lifestyle choices,
- no suggestion of a time/sense of urgency or a price minimisation pressure,
- no exploitation of a child’s imagination or inexperience, in a way that could mislead him/ her about the benefits of the product involved,
- no encouragement of unhealthy dietary habits,
- no blurring of the boundary between marketing and branding,
- striving that marketing materials primarily appealing to children under 13 years promote healthy, balanced diets and lifestsyles as well as positive values.
Concretely, Danone applies the rules detailed in our Danone Pledge on Marketing to Children.
* It refers to paid and unpaid communications developed by Danone with the intention of promoting its products to children under the age of 13 using all print media (newspapers, magazine books and printed advertising in public places), all broadcast media (traditional TV, radio), all non-broadcast electronic and/ or digital media (its own and third-party websites, social media, mobile and SMS marketing, native online marketing, games and apps, CDs/ DVDs), all of in-store or point-of-sales marketing, including packaging. Sponsorship (e.g. sporting, entertainment or cultural events or activities). All additional forms of marketing (cinema, outdoor, product placement in movies, TV shows, etc.). Danone marketing communications are considered to be addressed to children under the age of 13 when these represent at least 30% of the audience.
Marketing breast milk substitutes
Danone supports the WHO’s global public health recommendation calling for exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of age and continued breast-feeding up to two years and beyond, combined with the safe introduction of appropriate complementary foods.
We published a dedicated position paper with regards to health and nutrition in the first 1000 days: it is based on two convictions: 1/ Breastfeeding needs to be protected and promoted; and 2/ Best nutrition for mothers, infants and young children needs to be assured.
Danone supports the aims and principles of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions. We have a strict global policy: we do not advertise or promote infant formula for children aged 0-6 months, anywhere in the world, even if permitted by local laws. In addition, compliant with the FTSE criteria for countries classified as higher-risk, we have voluntarily extended our policy to 12 months of age, which may go beyond local legislation. In these higher-risk countries, Danone also prohibits the promotion of complementary foods and drinks for use by infants up to 6 months. We follow local legislation whenever stricter than our policy.
In 2016, we entered the FTSE4Good Index. In addition to meeting the inclusion criteria on Environmental, Social and Governance practices, FTSE4Good companies that market breast-milk substitutes have to meet specific marketing indicators.
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.
At Danone we have long supported the aims and principles of the WHO Code, that has guided the development of our formula marketing policies and practices in recent years. We believe that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies and we share the objective of the WHO, UNICEF and civil society organizations to increase breastfeeding, reduce malnutrition amongst babies and young children and improve the nutritional status of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Above all, we are convinced of the need for collective action and shared solutions. We aim now to take our work in this area to the next level, working through new partnerships with UN bodies, civil society organizations, industry and pediatric medical associations.
We have 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.
Every year we publish a report about our approach to responsible marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. The report forms part of our ongoing commitment to report openly on our support of the principles of the WHO Code and compliance with our Breast-Milk Substitutes marketing policy. It is a valuable part of how we evaluate our progress and how we intend to maintain an open and honest dialogue. Parents and healthcare professionals put trust in us and we aim to repay that trust by acting with openness and transparency.
Responsible use of nutrition and health claims
Danone has adopted since 2002 an internal Corporate Directive, applicable to all its Divisions, designed to ensure the consistency, credibility and scientific accuracy of the health & nutrition messages broadcast through any of its communications.
All commercial communications which includes health or nutrition claims, and which are aimed at the public, customers or healthcare professionals, including collective advertising and promotional campaigns where a Danone brand is named or implied, must be validated according to this Directive.
The General Manager of each Business Unit (BU) is liable for all such communications and in charge of their validation. For such purpose, the General Manager of the BU appoints a BU Claims Validation Manager (“BU CVM”). The BU CVM ensures that a process is in place, and properly applied, to validate communications locally, including as a minimum the General Manager of the BU, the BU CVM, and representatives responsible of Compliance, of Science and/or Nutrition, and of Public opinion.
Communications comply with the regulatory frameworks concerned, local practice, and codes of good practice and ethics. Communications are consistent with the image of the Brand concerned and with Danone Nutrition Commitments. Nutrition or health claims are substantiated by scientific evidence. To ensure the consistency and robustness of communications to consumers and healthcare professionals, Communication Guidelines are established and implemented according to the local regulatory framework.
Providing nutritional information to consumers
Danone has adopted since 2007 a voluntary commitment to provide extensive Nutritional Information to consumers such as a detailed nutritional table on the back of each product, summarized nutritional information on the front of each pack and a contact for the consumer to get product and nutritional information (website, call center..).
For all its products for the general population, in all geographies where it does not conflict with the local regulation on labeling, Danone commits to indicate on pack:
- The nutrient intake levels that most people are guided to consume daily for a healthy diet;
- The portion size, and regarding multi-portion packages to state the number of portions or servings contained in the package.
- Detailed nutritional information in back of pack including energy, fat (of which saturates, mono-unsaturates, polyunsaturates), carbohydrates (of which sugars, polyols, starch), Fiber, Protein and Salt; in 3 different ways (per 100g/100 ml; per portion; per % of reference intakes per portion);
- The energy value as a percentage of the Guideline Daily Amounts and/or Daily Values on Front-of-Pack of the product.
Danone also commits to labelling products that either have naturally high levels of micronutrients or that have been fortified with micronutrients. In addition, Danone commits to provide on its country websites the detailed nutritional composition of all products available in the country.