Danone invests Rs. 182 crore, re-enters India with dairy business

Jan 17, 2019

French multinational food products giant Danone is investing Rs. 182 crore into local yogurt maker Epigamia, exactly a year after announcing its exit from the dairy business in India. This move is seen as to help the company retain a presence in the market although a top company executive downplayed speculation of a revival of the company’s past plans.

Laurent Marcel, MD of Danone’s, venture investment arm stated that this is a minority venture investment, so Epigamia will continue to operate independently. Danone would collaborate with Epigamia in areas of brand management, distribution expansion, and manufacturing, quality and food safety though the investment would be independent of Danone’s business in India.

Though Danone exited its dairy operations in India last year it has continued to run its nutrition business comprising brands such as Protinex and Farex that it had acquired from Wockhardt eight years ago.

This funding will help Epigamia execute an ‘ambitious’ business plan that entails rolling out its dairy products distribution across 25 cities in India. Danone set up a venture investment arm in 2016 to back early-stage entrepreneurs that are building health food brands that could help the company further its manifesto to “create a healthy and sustainable future of food”.

Epigamia’s co-founder and CEO Rohan Mirchandani branched into yogurt after initially launching the Hokey Pokey brand of ice creams. The yogurt business has grown sales exponentially even though it was launched much later. Epigamia expects to clock around Rs 100 crore in sales by the end of this fiscal. The brand is retailed through organized retailers such as Reliance Fresh, Nature’s Basket, Future Group’s Big Bazaar and online retailers such as Big Basket and Amazon.

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