Jumping head on into the plant-based food sector, Danone North America has unveiled an exclusively vegan yogurt facility located in DuBois, Penn.
Previously used by a local airport, the 180,000 square foot facility is now the largest vegan yogurt plant in the country. Seeing an increase in demand for dairy alternative products, Danone bought the facility as a means to triple their plant-based business by 2025, according to Perishable News.
According to Danone, flexitarians, people who cut down on animal protein or people following a vegetarian diet who eat meat occasionally, account for one-third of the total population in the U.S.
“As flexitarian eating patterns continue to evolve and grow in popularity, plant-based food options present an opportunity to bring new choices throughout the grocery store,” said Mariano Lozano, CEO, Danone North America.
“Many people who enjoy our products look for plant-based options because they are interested in lessening their impact on the environment through diet,” said Chad Stone, Plant Director at Danone North America’s DuBois facility, in a press release. “Recognizing this is a priority for the people we serve, we are committed to continuously improving our environmental practices to ensure they are best-in-class. We have several projects underway including minimizing waste, reducing electricity consumption by converting to LED lighting across all areas of the DuBois facility and creating efficiencies for water use in our cleaning processes.”
Purchasing WhiteWave Foods in 2016, the parent company of vegan products like Silk, So Delicious and Vega, Danone acquired these brands for a hefty price tag of $12.5 billion. The company now has its sights set to produce dairy-like products in this renovated multi-million-dollar facility, making their dairy-based products in a separate location.
Danone will have one of the most extensive portfolios of brands and products in fresh dairy, organic foods and beverages and plant-based alternatives to milk and yogurt,” wrote Alain Oberhuber, an analyst at MainFirst.
Aiming to capitalize on the growth in veganism from a niche diet to mainstream lifestyle choice, the world’s largest yogurt maker has seen traditional yogurt sales flatline over the past several years. Future Market Insights, a research firm, expects worldwide demand for milk-free yogurt to increase about 5% annually to $7.4 billion by 2027.
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