Danone Dairy BeLux and Danone Waters Benelux, both part of the international Danone Group, aim to get certified as a B Corporation this autumn. "We want to do more for sustainability and transparency," says Wim Bauwens, Country Manager Danone Dairy BeLux.
The food company Danone ambitions to get all its entities B Corp certified. Today, thirteen Danone entities are already certified – representing over 30 per cent of the company's total turnover. In 2019, another ten Danone entities across the world applied to get certified, among which Danone Dairy BeLux, the Dairy entity in Belgium and in Luxembourg, and Danone Waters Benelux, which distributes the natural mineral water brands in Benelux.
‘One Planet. One Health.’
Why do you ambition to obtain a B Corp Certification?
Maarten Van Leeuwen, Country Manager Danone Waters Benelux: "In 2017, Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone group, launched our new vision: One Planet. One Health. The reasoning is simple: we have only one planet and only one health, and both are inextricably connected. Danone has always seen the economic growth linked to the social progress. That's why B Corp certification perfectly matches with the values and the DNA of our company. We see it as a benchmark, a way to get all our entities to work towards the same goals."
"Besides that, Danone wants to be a pioneer. In Belgium, only fifteen other companies have achieved the certification process so far. That our Belgian entities Danone Dairy Belux and Danone Waters Benelux applied to get certified was a very conscious decision. We believe that today we are far enough in our sustainability journey to commit to B Corp."
Wim Bauwens, Country Manager Danone Dairy BeLux: "Danone Dairy Belux has already completed the assessment, the first step of the certification process. Danone Waters Benelux will follow soon. B Lab, the non-profit organisation that awards the certification, will now review the answers we filled in and will audit our company. Only once we've successfully passed through those stages, we will get certified. We're striving to obtain it this autumn."
Making employees proud
What is the concrete added value of a B Corp certification for Danone?
Wim Bauwens: "Danone already invests in sustainable development in many areas. A B Corp certification will allow us to continue this in a more holistic, integrated and structured way. Danone Dairy Belux, for example, supports local milk farmers by offering them a milk price that is more stable than the market price – it is unique in Belgium. Danone Waters Benelux invests in evian® bottles made from 50 per cent recycled plastic and the goal is to have 100 per cent recycled plastic by 2025."
"In the future, we will multiply such initiatives. We want to be more transparent in the way we work, on social and on ecological issues. This will make our mission more tangible not only for our stakeholders, but also for our employees: we want to make them proud of how we run the business. Moreover, the B Corp certification gives a clear signal to young talents, as we know transparency and sustainability are important drivers in the choice of their future job."
Maarten Van Leeuwen: "B Lab set up networking events for companies interested in the B Corp certification. That's how our CEO Emmanuel Faber got inspired by other B Corp pioneers like Patagonia (an American clothing company focusing on outdoor apparel, red.). Together with them and other companies, we're looking for a good balance between profit-making and corporate social responsibility. Lots of members of the B Corp community share the same ambition and have the same way of working. They all agree that doing business goes hand in hand with sustainable use of planet’s resources and with health of people, … They are, in short, the perfect partners to exchange on best practices."
How will you communicate about B Corp with your consumers?
Wim Bauwens: "Today, consumers are asking more and more questions about sustainability. In response to that, the food industry - whereas Danone - have launched numerous initiatives that contribute to sustainability and transparency, like the 'Bio' label and the Nutri-Score. B Corp provides a holistic approach for all these individual initiatives, because it is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. That's why we also consider to implement a B Corp label on our products, as it embeds all our goals."
"That’s why we think it's so important that more and more companies in Belgium get the B Corp certification. It would raise awareness on this label and will help consumers and employees to understand what it entails. Therefore, Danone calls on other actors in Belgium to apply for the B Corp certification: because doing business differently will benefit to our economy, the mankind and our planet."