Danone adds to U.S. expansion with YoCrunch yogurt acquisition

PARIS Fri Aug 9, 2013 12:13pm EDT

A general view with a giant jar of yogurt is seen outside the exhibition to mark the 90th anniversary of the French foods company Danone, in Paris April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

A general view with a giant jar of yogurt is seen outside the exhibition to mark the 90th anniversary of the French foods company Danone, in Paris April 2, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

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PARIS (Reuters) - French foods group Danone (DANO.PA) has bought YoCrunch, a U.S. firm which makes yogurts with toppings such as Reese's peanut butter candy, M&M's and Oreo cookies, as it continues to grow its share of the $7 billion U.S. yoghurt market.

YoCrunch has net annual sales of $110 million and has had steady double-digit percentage growth in recent years, making it the leading U.S. supplier of yogurts with mix-in toppings, Danone said on Friday, without saying how much it paid for the business.

The acquisition follows a deal between Danone and Starbucks (SBUX.O) announced last month to sell co-branded yogurt through Starbucks cafes and in grocery stores.

Danone, which already has 30 percent of the U.S. market through its Dannon, Activia, Stonyfield Farm and Danimals brands, is betting on growing demand amongst U.S. consumers who eat far less yogurt than Europeans.

The U.S. retail market for yogurt has grown an average 8.5 percent per year over the last five years, according to sales tracking firm Euromonitor International. While that rate is seen slowing to 5.9 percent in the next five, it is still double the expected growth of packaged food overall.

Danone shares were little changed at 59 euros by 0752 ET. They are up some 18 percent this year.

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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