Danone: the history of the food giant
Danone is known all over the world; millions of people around the world consume its products every day. However, the main merit of the corporation is the popularization and distribution of such drinks as yogurt. Now it is hard to believe that at the beginning of the 20th century this product was consumed only in the East and the Balkans, while in Europe and America people had never even heard of it.
The history of yogurt began in 1908, when the Russian scientist Ilya Mechnikov singled out the positive qualities of Bulgarian bacillus, a bacteria that enhances the body’s defenses and improves digestion. This scientific work fell into the hands of Isaac Karasu, and he decided to start his own company to sell yogurt. The fact is that the entrepreneur lived in Greece, where this drink was part of the normal diet of any Greek. As a result of the outbreak of the Balkan War, Isaac left his homeland and went to Barcelona, where he changed his last name to Carasso. In Spain, in 1919, the Greek founded Danone, named after his son Daniel.
Isaac himself was a doctor by training, so he began to distribute yogurt as a medicinal product through pharmacies. The main ingredient for making yogurt was Bulgarian bacillus, which was made in Paris at the Pasteur Institute. After Isaac’s death, his post was taken over by his son, who decided to make a number of changes in the business, the first of which was to move the company to Paris, closer to the supplier. By this time, Danone was a well-known producer of a product that was already loved and consumed all over Europe.Before World War II, Daniel decided to move to the United States, where he opened Dannon Milk Products. Here he began producing yogurt, and it quickly became popular among Americans. But the European business was not going so well; it was significantly affected by the war. So in 1951 Carasso returned to France to rebuild the company. An important point in the development is the release of fruit yogurt to the market.
Interestingly, the range of Danone products was first expanded in 1967. Then the company merged with a major French cheese producer – Gervais. Such a step was extremely advantageous for the business and opened up new opportunities.
Another important step was the merger in 1973 with BSN, a glass container company, which produced beverages, including beer. One of the reasons for Danone success is business diversification, the corporation holds high positions in different market segments, which allows surviving crises with minimal losses.
By the early 90s the company produced macaroni and bakery products, alcoholic drinks and medicines, in addition to yogurt, cheese and beer. Now Danone’s main lines of business are dairy products, baby food, cookies and beverages.