RUSSIA – French food company Danone has vowed to continue operating in Russia despite mounting pressure for foreign companies to exit the country following its invasion of Ukraine. 

Danone has more than a dozen factories in Russia, where it sells products under brands including Activia yogurt, Nutrilon infant formula and Prostokvashino milk. 

Russia, where Danone is one of the largest multinational food manufacturers with local production, accounted for around 5% of the group’s revenues in 2021. 

In defending his company’s position, Danone CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique said: “It is very easy to get drawn into black-and-white thinking and demagogic positions but, in the end, our reputation is about our behaviour. 

“We have a responsibility to the people we feed, the farmers who provide us with milk, and the tens of thousands of people who depend on us.” 

To perhaps show its protest against Russia’s invasion, French food giant has said it will “suspend” investment in Russia.  

Danone finds itself in a club of a few multinational conglomerates that opt to stay in Russia despite possible backlash from their home countries. 

In this ever-shrinking list is Swiss cocoa processor and chocolate manufacturer, Barry Callebaut who also maintained that operations at its three facilities in the country will continue operating as usual.  

Other dairy companies have however not been as “diplomatic” as Danone, choosing instead to take a tougher stance against Russia in line with foreign policies of their home governments. 

Denmark-based dairy cooperative Arla Foods recently announced that it has “initiated preparations to suspend its business in Russia” in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Arla, the owner of brands including Castello cheese and Lurpak butter, said the move would “cover both its local operations and imports”. 

In a brief statement, Peder Tuborgh, Arla’s CEO, said: “The impact and consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are tragic.  

We are now taking action to suspend our operations in Russia and are focused on how to support our 70 colleagues in Russia who are directly affected by this.” 

Irish nutrition group Glanbia has also ceased selling to the Russian market following the invasion of Ukraine. 

Glanbia chief executive Siobhan Talbot confirmed that the group – which owns brands such as Slimfast and Optimum Nutrition – has halted activity in both Russia and Ukraine. 

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