Like Heinz, Danone was able to become the manufacturer who brought a new food product to the world. As a result, yoghurts were destined to become one of the most beloved dairy products in the world. We are so used to this product that it is difficult to imagine today that about a hundred years ago it was used only in the Balkans and the East. Developed America and Europe have never heard of yoghurts at all.
The history of the famous brand can be found in Russia. This work did not go unnoticed.
Mechnikov's works became the scientific basis for Isaac Karas' creation of his own company. She started selling yoghurt in Western Europe. Karas was born in Thessaloniki. Since childhood, he adored this dairy product, which was sold right on the streets in glassware. In 1912, Karas left his homeland - the Balkan War began. As soon as the Greeks approached Thessaloniki, the Young Turk Karas decided to flee. After all, the Greeks saw in him first of all the nephew of a national traitor, so no mercy was to be expected from them.
Fate brought the exile to Barcelona. First of all, the fugitive changed his last name, now he was called Isaac Carasso. This was more in line with where he lived. Yes, and people with a Spanish surname were easier to win over here. It was in Spain that Carasso learned about Mechnikov's works, which impressed him very much. It turned out that the product so popular in his homeland and loved by him is absolutely unknown to Europeans.
How could you not use such a chance? In 1919 the Danone company was born. Its name literally means "little Daniel", it was dedicated to the son of Isaac. By that time, the family had already lived in Spain for 7 years, having completely mastered here. Carasso himself believed that it was already possible to start your own business.
Isaac was a doctor by profession. This is what prompted the decision to distribute the new dairy product through pharmacies, positioning it as a medicine. However, there was an important nuance - practically no one knew about yoghurts in Europe at that time. It was not easy to bring a new product to the market, but various ingenious oriental medicines were in good demand. Yogurt has become one of them. The new product immediately began to enjoy steady demand.
The main supplier for the company was Mechnikov's laboratory, which worked at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. From there Danone got the famous Bulgarian stick and some other ingredients for its products. Over time, the company was headed by Daniel Carasso, who significantly changed the structure of his father's company.
First of all, Danone changed its location - it moved to Paris, closer to its partners. In the 1930s, yoghurts became popular, and they were seen as more than just a medicine. For Europeans, this dairy product has become familiar, and remains so to this day. Competitors appeared at Danone, but they could not even shake the position of the company. The fact that Carasso was the first in the industry has helped the company achieve leadership positions.
The time before World War II was tense for Europe. Daniel Carasso realized that he had Jewish roots and decided not to risk it in such a situation. During the years of the fascist regime, he went to America, where he founded Dannon Milk Products Inc. It can be seen that the name of the American company turned out to be different than that of the European one.
This step was deliberately made by Carasso to adapt the name for local buyers. And this decision turned out to be correct. While Europe was in the flames of war, in America, Carasso established yogurt sales. This is how the Americans loved the new dairy product. And in 1951, Carasso returned to Europe, where he began to rebuild his business. Soon the American company was sold so as not to dissipate forces.
The future fate of "Danone" was not connected at all with the founders, but with the Ribot family. Antoine Ribot was in charge of La Verrerie Souchon-Neuvesel, which produced glass containers. The company was a middle man, not a market leader in any way. The fateful decision was made by Ribot to merge with Glaces de Boussois, which held a leading position in the window glass market. This is how the BSN company appeared, of which Antoine Ribot became the head. He immediately began to look for further ways to expand his firm.
Ribot realized that it was possible for his company to expand its activities, not only creating bottles, but also filling them. That is why BSN begins to acquire one after another companies that can participate in this endeavor - the producers of Kronnenbourg beer, Societe des Eaux d'Evian mineral water and even Societe Europeenne de Brasseries baby food. By combining the cycles together, the company grew rapidly.
The takeovers continued. As a result BSN became the number one window manufacturer in Europe. In the early 1970s, there was a cooperation with the Danone company, which needed a strong partner. The yogurt maker needed resources to grow further. BSN turned out to be such a partner, and in 1973 a deal was made between the companies.
A whole corporation was born under the name BSN-Gervais Danone, which took a leading position in many markets, generally little related to each other. However, not everything was so simple. Over time, problems began - the real estate market began to feel problems. This also affected BSN's position in the glass market. Eventually, in the early 1980s, the company abandoned its construction business altogether, focusing on food and beverages.
Further development of "Danone" can be described in simple words - "buying everything in a row." The concert was acquired by various types of business, which were not related to each other. Some of the deals allowed the company to penetrate new regions, but most turned out to be unnecessary ballast over time, which was later sold off. By the early 90s, in addition to yoghurt, the concern was producing cheese, mineral water, beer, baby food, pasta, toast, champagne, and medicines.
Despite the ambiguity of all transactions, one cannot fail to note the fact that Ribot always tried to carry out them as quickly as possible. The company has grown rapidly, entering new markets. It was said that Danone acted too harshly, but that is the way of doing business. It was only in such ways that it was possible to develop.
By mid-1990, the company returned to its historical name - Danone. By that time, it was a real giant, comparable in the variety of products to Procter & Gamble. The company has owned many different brands. Thanks to Antoine Ribot, Danone has become a real global giants, a leader in many markets, including, of course, among yoghurts. After leaving the post of head of Antoine, his son Frank took control of the company. He immediately began to restructure the concern, ruthlessly getting rid of many unnecessary directions and brands.
Interestingly, 10-15 years ago the company was ready to be absorbed by Nestle itself. However, this was not done, since the French government simply prohibited the sale of its strategic enterprises to foreigners by law. You shouldn't be surprised, because “Danone” is a real national treasure. The French did not dare to sell it.
Today Danone's strategy is to move in three main directions. These are fresh dairy products and baby food, mineral water and biscuits. The sale of such goods is a priority for Danone. And today, the majority of buyers associate the brand with just such goods.
In these areas, the French company is confidently among the leaders. Among the most famous products offered by "Danone" are popular among Russians "Aktimel", "Danissimo", "Rastishka", "Activia", mineral waters "Aqua", "Evian".
Today, among the assets of Danone, there is also an 18.36% stake in the Russian company Wimm-Bill-Dann. The French have become one of the most important investors in the Russian company. The money was invested in it literally immediately after the IPO. Today this Russian asset is one of the most valuable for the French brand.