Danone: Realigning Sustainability for Profitability?

Danone: Realigning Sustainability for Profitability?
Case Code: BSTR677
Case Length: 12 Pages
Period: 1910-2023
Pub Date: 2024
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization : Danone SA
Industry : Food & Beverage
Countries : France
Themes: Socially-responsible Business Practices, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Restructuring,Environmental Sustainability
Danone: Realigning Sustainability for Profitability?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


The case discusses the changes at Danone SA (Danone), one of the world's major manufacturers and producers of dairy and nutritious products, following the exit of its CEO Emmanuel Faber (Faber) in 2021. Activist investors believed Danone required a management overhaul since, under Faber's tenure, sales growth, margins, and share price had lagged behind those of rivals such as Nestlé and Unilever. Danone's sales had declined 6.6% to EUR23.62 billion ($28.83 billion) in 2020. . Since joining in 2014, Faber had shown a strong commitment to resource efficiency and environmental protection. Following Faber’s exit, Antoine de Saint-Affrique (Saint-Affrique) was appointed as new CEO of Danone in September 2021 to lead a turnaround and realign sustainability activities while ensuring profitability. In March 2022, Saint-Affrique devised a strategy to 'Renew Danone'. In early 2023, three environmental organizations, ClientEarth, Zero Waste France, and SurfRider Foundation Europe, sued Danone over its usage of plastic. This was the first time a food company had been sued in France for its use of plastic throughout its entire supply chain. This leads to the question, why did a traditionally purpose-driven firm capitulate to the demands of shareholders? Was Faber’s strategy justified? Will Saint-Affrique be able to drive profitability and sustainability simultaneously in the long run?


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Recognize the challenges of integrating sustainability practices effectively in large corporations.
  • Analyze why transitioning to responsible capitalism is difficult for CEOs .
  • Examine the challenges of aligning sustainability and profitability
  • Formulate a strategy to quickly transform a large business



Growth Strategy; Profitable Business; Sustainable Business Practices; Corporate Social Responsibility; Stakeholder Management; Climate change; Sustainable Development Goals; FMCG products; Climate Impacts; Danone; Emmanuel Faber; Activist investors; Antoine de Saint-Affrique; 'Entreprise à Mission' model; ‘One Person, One Share, One Voice’ program;

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