‘We want to preserve the unique DNA of the company’

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after DMV – Danone’s corporate venture arm – acquired a controlling stake in Harmless Harvest, Mand said: “Danone brings a ton of capabilities and resources, from expertise in packaging and processing to infrastructure that we can potentially leverage, so we have been actively looking at expanding internationally.

“We haven’t announced yet where we’re going to launch first, but we’re looking at Asia, Europe and further expansion in North America.”

Danone Manifesto Ventures (DMV)​ CEO Laurent Marcel added: “In some cases, our investment agenda is to take a minority stake and to learn, and in other cases we invest in brands or categories or products that could fit very well one day in our portfolio, and Harmless Harvest is a perfect example of that ​[Danone has targeted €5bn in plant-based sales globally by 2025].

Over the last four years​ [DMV led a $30m round in San Francisco-based Harmless Harvest​ in 2017], especially since Ben joined the company in 2018​, we have developed a true partnership to identify areas where we could create value together; so one good example of that is the launch of the coconut yogurt​, which is made in a Danone factory. We have been a support system and an advisor on supply chain, manufacturing, and innovation.”

According to SPINS​ data (MULO and natural enhanced channels) for the 52 weeks to May 16, 2021, US retail sales of refrigerated coconut water were up +10.97% year on year (compared with growth of +5.85% the previous year).

Sales of shelf-stable coconut water – a far larger market – were up 10.83% year on year (compared with a -3.4% decline the previous year). 

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