From September 24 to 26, in Le Havre (France), the third edition of the international “LH Forum – Positive Economy Forum” brought together over 5,500 attendees and 150 speakers from all over the world to develop proposals for building the positive economy of the future. Among the speakers was Nicolas Gausserès, Director of Nutrition at Danone Nutricia Research. He shared his experience on how Danone works to be ‘part of the solution’ on public health issues.
Public health issues stall development and empowerment
‘Positive economy’ is a concept supported by Jacques Attali, President of the PlaNet Finance Group & Positive Economy Forum: it is based on the idea that ‘it is critical to restore the long-term priority in our decisions and actions” and that the economy must be redirected ‘toward the consideration of generations to come.’ The LH Forum is part of that effort, bringing together experts and speakers to share best practices and come up with new solutions for the world’s main challenges. This year, the topical sessions focused on 4 lines of enquiry:
– Positive finance: ‘Re-imagining finance for the future. A finance serving and helping society, the public good, inclusion and social innovation.’
– Education: ‘Preparing students to work in and face an environment which is changing and moving ever faster.’
– Agriculture and food: ‘Making the transition to sustainable food ecosystems.’
– Climate: ‘Solutions to fight global warming exist.’
Nicolas Gausserès, Director of Nutrition at Danone Nutricia Research, participated in the Agriculture and food session. Prior to the session, in his biography on the LH Forum’s website, he put his expertise into perspective: “In a context where public health issues increasingly place food-processing industries at the heart of the problems, the long-term survival of a company in this sector will come from its ability to combine economic growth and public health, meaning growth that will durably benefit public health.” Public health issues are still stalling development and empowerment in too many parts of the world: over 850 million people are undernourished; 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies; 2.1 billion are overweight (and 671 million obese); 25% of the world’s children under 5 years old are stunted, etc. In his presentation, Nicolas Gausserès explained that working for Danone means working for a multinational company that sells 150 million yogurts and 2 million litres of water everyday… but in contexts that vary tremendously. Danone’s mission is
to ‘bring health through food to as many people as possible,’ and that cannot be achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach. ‘Consumers have very different geographical, cultural, social, nutritional and dietary realities, so we have to adapt and reinvent ourselves.’
Adapting to local contexts to be part of the solution
Adapting to local contexts is at the heart of Danone’s global strategy. As Director of Nutrition at Danone Nutricia Research, Nicolas Gausserès developed the NutriPlanet approach, a database that maps the intelligence Danone has in over 40 countries. He described it to down to Earth as one of the tools his teams use to fulfil one of their key roles: “to understand nutritional habits everywhere around the world, to help each subsidiary develop products that are relevant locally, and also to help them demonstrate the role our food categories can play in dietary balance and health.” (Read the whole interview here). The programme has facilitated product adaptation in Brazil, where a new formula of Danonino was designed with less salt and sugar and more calcium and vitamin E to meet the nutritional needs of the children. In Ivory Coast, where 67% of children aged 0 to 3 are deficient in iron, Phosphatine, an enriched cereal product, was made available to contribute the fight against anaemia in young children. To Nicolas Gausserès, these two examples “illustrate how a company can ‘play the game’ of responsibility and complementarity.”
Image : capture from the LH video.