Cow Act: Regional activation of Danone's sustainability strategy

Key challenge: how to come to regional activation plans for milksheds in France, Spain and Poland to further develop and implement the sustainability goals of Danone on milkshed and dairy farm level.

Danone is a leading food and beverage company. In the years prior to 2016 the company defined sustainability goals and commitments. They asked Wageningen University & Research (WUR) to develop from goals to better understanding the consequences on regional milkshed level and on farm level. The company is aware that it will require changes in the relationships with farmers and also changes in practices on the farm. Together with WUR regional teams, the sustainability managers of Danone explored these changes and ways to implement them within the company as well as on farm level.

Sustainability themes

The general desire of the company to achieve goals on 11 sustainability themes is elaborated into clearer definitions, KPI’s, targets, critical success factors and solutions to monitor progress in achieving goals.

Regional issues

Together with local Danone milk teams in France, Spain and Poland regional activation plans were developed to implement on farm the sustainability strategy defined on company level. Local sustainability themes, relationships between local Danone staff and dairy farmers, opinions of local stakeholders and regional farmer attitudes and goals played major roles to come to tailor made regional strategies to regional activation plans for implementation.

Best practices to facilitate implementation

In the last phase of the project Danone focused the sustainability strategy on the development of Regenerative Agriculture. They defined this strategy based on 3 major pillars: People, Planet and Animal. Therefore, two of the eleven themes were studied more in depth to explore best practices on dairy farm level. This resulted in works sheets with the assessment of best practices on greenhouse gases and animal welfare. Next to these technical worksheets we developed a separate worksheet for the regional company staff with options to organise the change on milkshed level. This is about the social group process in which education, economic incentives and other ways to stimulate changes play a role.

Regenerative Agriculture

To support farmers in adapting regenerative agricultural practices and to speed up the implementation Danone initiated Farming for Generations. This is an alliance with 8 global companies that work together in the supply chain of the farm. The information from CowAct is at the basis of all practices identified. WUR is delivering expertise to different working groups and is the leading advisor of this alliance.