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    Danone gears up for Olympics health-kick ahead of Paris Games

    Dairy products of French food group Danone are seen in a supermarket in Nice, France, January 9, 2023. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

    Danone, whose CEO first reached out to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in mid-2022 to get involved, is betting on the Paris Games’ focus on health and nutrition to boost summer sales of its yoghurts and plant-based products.

    Dozens of major French companies have emerged as first-time partners of the Olympic Games this year, hoping to take advantage of the sales opportunities and marketing exposure the event typically gives sponsors.

    Through press releases and marketing materials, the IOC has made it clear that sponsors selling food and beverages – including Coca Cola bottled water and Nestle’s Garden Gourmet meat alternatives – are part of a drive by the Olympics to promote health and wellness.

    The move is a far-cry from the past, when McDonald’s was a seven-time sponsor of the event until the London 2012 Games – for which it said it would serve about 50,000 Big Macs, 100,000 portions of fries and 30,000 milkshakes.

    When Antoine de Saint-Affrique became Danone chief executive in 2022, one of the first things he did was to meet with the head of the Olympic Games.

    “Our plant based products, yoghurts, especially those with high protein … are extremely relevant for athletes and people who take care of their health,” the company’s chief financial officer Juergen Esser told Reuters in an interview.

    “Obviously we will display our full portfolio including on waters to take care of hydration,” he added.

    Danone’s Evian water brand, however, did not manage secure the deal to sell bottled water at the event, which went to long-time sponsor Coca-Cola. Its other brands include Activia yoghurts and Silk plant-based products.

    (Reuters)

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