Danone invests in French organic baby food start-up Yooji

FRANCE – Danone Manifesto Ventures has announced its investment in the French organic food start-up Yooji, the value of which has not been disclosed.

The investment highlights Danone’s response to a consumer shift towards healthy living as their tastes are drawing the company interests towards the food and manufacturing industry, to promote healthy lifestyles.

However, Yooji will continue to operate independently, with the development of the business remaining entirely in the hands of its existing management team.

Yooji was founded in 2012 and has been responding to the growing demands from parents for high-quality healthy baby meals, which are easy and convenient, yet remain close to home-cooked meals.

The products used are sourced from organic farms and cooked in France with 100% natural ingredients, without salt or additives.

Yooji products are currently sold in over 600 stores through France.

Danone Manifesto Ventures joined forces with company’s longstanding shareholders as part of Yooji’s capital-raising where the deal was completed in close collaboration with Blédina, the Danone-owned brand which continues to lead French infant nutrition market.

Danone’s venture capital business has also invested in French cookie-company Michel et Augustin.

It has also bought stake in AccelFoods – a US fund that looks for upstart natural and organic brands and also in Farmer’s Fridge, a US company that makes vending machines to sell organic salads and snacks.

This year, Danone bought U.S. organic food producer WhiteWave in a US$12.5 billion deal as other big global food companies have also tied up with smaller, independent food manufacturers that consumers regard as being healthier and more ethical.

As part of Yooji’s capital raising effort that is approximately US$4.70 million, Danone bought a stake that puts it on a par with other longstanding Yooji shareholders.

Those shareholders include Caravelle, a family owned diversified industrial group, and Capagro, a French venture capital fund dedicated to agriculture and food innovation.

Danone, the world’s largest yoghurt group, has recently been touted as a potential target for suitors or shareholders seeking stronger returns, as its profits lag many of its peers and it has no large controlling shareholder.

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