Danone suspends Russia investments as Valio joins list of food companies pulling out of Russia

RUSSIA – French multinational food company, Danone has suspended all planned investments in Russia, its third-largest market in Europe, following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

However, the world’s largest yogurt maker, noted that it will continue to produce and distribute its dairy products and infant nutrition to meet the essential food needs of the local population. 

Danone, which generates around 6% of its sales in Russia and Ukraine combined, controls Russian dairy brand Prostokvashino and employs about 8,000 people in the country.  

Pulling out of the country would therefore prove to be a tall order for the dairy processor given its substantial investments in the country. 

Its Finnish dairy counterpart Valio is however not as cautious as Danone and has taken the radical step of immediately closing its business operations in the country. 

The company which has one processed cheese factory near Moscow has already halted all exports from Finland to Russia and Belarus and suspended all imports of ingredients and packaging materials from Russia 

“We strictly condemn Russia’s attack on independent Ukraine. Ethically, Valio cannot continue operations in Russia; therefore, we are ending business operation in Russia,” said Valio’s CEO, Annikka Hurme. 

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Mass Exodus from Russia 

Valio joins a growing group of companies distancing themselves from Russia even as the federation intensifies its military operation on its neighbor. 

Earlier, UK spirits maker Halewood Artisanal Spirits also announced plans to move production of JJ Whitley Vodka back to the UK in response to Russia’s military action against Ukraine.  

A  company spokesperson revealed that some production will be moved back to J Whitley’s Chirley site with immediate effect, with British-made JJ Whitley Vodka expected to be on the market by the end of March. 

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“Halewood Artisanal Spirits is a family business founded and headquartered in the UK,” the spokesman added. “The JJ Whitley Distillery in St. Petersburg is 100% owned by Halewood and has no affiliation with the Russian government.” 

UK supermarkets Tesco, Morrisons, and Coop have also joined the Russian boycott and have respectively withdrawn Russian-related products from UK stores. 

The move from the UK retail majors comes after they received pressure from customers to remove Russian products from shelves as the war in Ukraine intensifies. 

Another retail giant Asda has announced a £1 million (US$1.09m) package to support displaced Ukrainian families in Europe and the UK. 

The supermarket giant also said it would stop selling products that originate in Russia “for the foreseeable future”. 

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