French dairy company Danone has announced that it will be selling Stonyfield, the world's largest organic yogurt brand, as part of the process of finalizing its acquisition of WhiteWave, the parent company of both Horizon organic milk and Wallaby organic yogurt.
The sale of this subsidiary was decided in accordance with the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice and will be concluded in the months following the closing of the acquisition.
“While Stonyfield has been a valued part of Danone’s portfolio and remains a highly attractive asset, its divestiture does not impact the strategic rationale or financial benefits of the WhiteWave acquisition,” Danone said in a press release last week.
Watchdog group the Cornucopia Institute first challenged Danone’s acquisition of WhiteWave this summer, noting that as the company was not only a majority shareholder of Stonyfield but also owned a 21 percent stake in the Lifeway organic kefir brand, adding WhiteWave's Wallaby and Horizon Organic yogurts to its market share would be contributing to an organic dairy monopoly.
“This merger could have reduced options and raised prices for consumers without any positive impact on the quality of the products they are buying,” said Cornucopia Institute co-founder Mark Kastel in a press release. “With less competition, big companies commonly underpay independent farmers for their products, undermining the economic viability of small, family-scale farms. The organic community was wise to be very wary of this acquisition.”
The WhiteWave acquisition is expected to double the size of Danone's North American business to more than $6 billion in turnover, allowing the company to become one of the top 15 food and beverage companies in the United States.
“While as part of our agreement with the DOJ, we have made the strategic decision to divest our Stonyfield business, we are proud of all that we have accomplished together,” says Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone. “We are committed to finding the right partner to support Stonyfield's growth journey in the future.”
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