DanoneWave's U.S. subsidiary changed its name to Danone North America and achieved B Corp certification two years ahead of schedule, according to a company statement.
The maker of Silk plant-based beverages, Dannon yogurt and Evian water said in the statement that its North American business is now the largest B Corp in the world. B Corp status is certified by B Lab, a nonprofit based in Pennsylvania that grants the recognition to companies "using business as a force for good through their commitment to social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency."
Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber told CNBC that meeting the B Corp standards and requirements wasn't easy, and the company plans to do even more in this area. He also said that Danone North America's success in achieving the status before planned signals that there are other possibilities ahead, and he hoped it would inspire other large companies to make similar changes to become more environmentally friendly.
B Corp status is a coveted certification that tells consumers the certified company is adhering to standards and values that resonate with them personally: transparency, accountability, and standing for something. Some food and beverage companies that currently have B Corp certification includes Ben & Jerry's, Earthbound Farms, JUST Water, Once Upon a Farm, Garden of Life, Jeni's Ice Cream and Plum Organics.
These are firms that have cleaned up their supply chains and adopted standards of environmental responsibility — and their products and outreach typically indicate it. Jeni's, for example, posts its B Corp score on the company website and compares it to the median score.
Danone North America CEO Mariano Lozano said the company is joining a community of 2,400 Certified B Corporations from more than 60 countries across 150 industries. To achieve the status, they each must complete an impact assessment, earn an audited minimum score of 80 points out of a possible 200, and re-certify their status every two years. Danone currently has 85 points.
B Corp certification growth across industries parallels the spending power of health-conscious and environmentally friendly millennials, who are more likely to go out of their way to do business with companies that reflect their values. Consumers from 18-34 years old now make up about 23.4% of the U.S. population and are the largest demographic in the country. As they're coming into their prime spending years, their preferences in all types of products and services are transforming the economy.
It will be interesting to see whether and how Danone North America's direction and orientation transforms its peer corporations in the food and beverage space. As Danone CEO Faber told Food Business News he hopes it starts a movement.
“To get certified you have to sign a document, which is a certificate of interdependence," he told the trade publication. "You become a part of a movement that is interdependent, and it talks to the fact you cannot succeed alone. I really hope many more brands and companies, big and small, will join the party.”