Danone has inaugurated its newly transformed production facility in Villecomtal-sur-Arros, southwestern France, which has been converted to a plant-based beverage production site.
The dairy giant said the transformation reflects its focus on anticipating consumer needs. The site will become a new reference point in Europe for the production of oat-based drinks for the Alpro brand.
In a statement, Danone said that the transformation took nearly two years and called for a capital investment of several million euros. It is now home to Danone France’s only oat-flour-to-oat-juice production facility.
The Villecomtal-sur-Arros plant features two production lines, one operating at high speed. Beverage output is expected to reach over 300,000 litres a day for distribution in France and 26 other European markets. 90% of total production is designated for export.
To support the transformation of the site, all its employees received specialised training in plant processing techniques. Course content drew on Danone’s existing expertise, as the company already operates a facility dedicated to the production of plant-based products in Issenheim, eastern France. 49 staff members at Villecomtal-sur-Arros were trained by their counterparts at Issenheim to manage the start-up of the new production lines.
The site has been converted in line with the company’s ‘Renew Danone’ strategy, which aims to adapt and round out product ranges to grow and maintain a competitive edge in step with consumer demand for healthy, diversified products.
With the inauguration of Villecomtal-sur-Arros, Danone now has two French and four European sites dedicated to plant-based beverages, with the well-known Alpro brand a key driver.
Alpro caters to 3.6 million regular consumers in France, where Danone sells more than 20 million litres of Alpro plant-based beverages, and over 300 million across Europe.
Benjamin Chevallier, country manager for plant-based at Danone France, said: “Our Alpro brand is committed to dietary diversity, and we are working hard to meet demand”.
He added: “Going forward, we aim to raise awareness among France’s 67-million strong population. And to do that, we will be stepping up production of both our oat-based ranges, rich in plant proteins, and our on-the-go formats.”
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