On July 13, Dannon executives unveiled Dannon and Oikos Greek yogurt productscontaining more natural and non-GMO ingredients.
The company plans to highlight the non-GMO ingredients on all of its product packaging. It is also ensuring that by the end of 2018, all cows that supply milk for these products (as well as its Danimals brand) will be fed non-GMO feed, which will impact some 80,000 acres of farmland.
Additionally, Dannon has launched a series of initiatives and partnershipsaimed at promoting the production and certification of non-GMO feed.
Mariano Lozano, CEO of Dannon U.S., said in an e-mail to Forbes:
“We believe it’s the right thing to do because consumer preferences are continuing to evolve and we put consumers at the center of every decision we make.”
Dannon’s parent company, Danone, said its recent $10 billion acquisition of WhiteWave Foods Co. may help speed up the process of ridding its products of GMO ingredients.
WhiteWave’s products include WhiteWave Silk, a best-selling soy milk; a range of dairy and organic foods such as Horizon milk, Wallaby yogurt, and Earthbound Farm (a company that had fought GMO labeling laws) salads. The acquisition was reportedly unrelated to Dannon’s non-GMO pledge, and could take 4-6 months to complete.
The non-GMO announcement goes a step beyond Dannon’s April announcement that it would start adding labels to its packaging to show consumers if the products contained GMOs.
The company’s supply chain is now being scrutinized to ensure each step contains non-GMO ingredients, from the planting of seeds to the consumer picking up the packaged yogurt at the grocery store. Dannon has promised that its products will soon contain “ingredients we can actually pronounce.”
Also last week, Dannon said it was looking for ways to cut the sugar content of its yogurt, and is working with the American Heart Association (AHA) and other health groups. The company has already reduced the amount of sugar in its products to 23 grams or less per 6-ounce serving.
The move follows the government’s first-ever recommendation that Americans limit their sugar intake in an effort to fight obesity, diabetes, and other health epidemics.
The American Heart Association advises people to eat yogurt containing no more than 20 grams of sugar in a 6-ounce serving. That would Dannon would need to cut an additional 3 grams of sugar from its products.
The newly unveiled Dannon products are made with evaporated cane juice and non-GMO starch, instead of GMO beet sugar and starch. It’s a switch that, under public pressure, many other companies have also been making.