Danone converts dairy yogurt plant into plant-based dairy facility

The Villecomtal-sur-Arros plant, where Danone produced fruit yogurts designated for the French market, was re-opened as a dedicated facility for the manufacture of Alpro-branded oat-based beverages.

The conversion took two years to complete and is a response to growing consumer demand for plant-based foods in France and the rest of Europe. According to Danone, a quarter of French consumers now identify as flexitarians – who consume both animal-based and non-animal foods – making the case for restructuring its operational footprint in France clear.

Danone runs a second plant dedicated to Alpro product manufacture – in Issenheim, eastern France – and four in Europe, including in the UK and Belgium.

The Villecomtal site can output more than 300,000 liters of beverage per day for distribution in France and 26 other European markets, with 90% of the total production designated for export.

The growth of plant-based dairy alternatives

In November 2021 when the company first announced its intentions to convert the Villecomtal plant, Danone said the French market for plant-based foods had tripled in 7 years, and expected it to grow by further 50% by 2025.  

According to the Good Food Institute Europe, a think tank, plant-based milk was the leading category in plant-based food alternatives by sales value and unit sales in 2022. Plant-based milk alternatives generated €2.21bn in sales in 2022, a growth of 7% year-on-year and 19% since 2020. The category held a market share of 11% in milk, with oat, soy and almond the most popular varieties.