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Danone sees China as key growth driver, CFO says

FILE PHOTO: Logo of French food group Danone at the company headquarters in Paris

By Agata Rybska

(Reuters) - Danone said on Thursday that China will remain a key growth driver for the world's largest yoghurt maker, as medical nutrition and beverages categories remain robust.

In 2022, demand for Danone's Chinese vitamin drink brand Mizone was hit by the country's no-COVID policy, but the company turned this around in 2023, making China its "number one driver", Chief Financial Officer Juergen Esser said.

"We're going to continue growing fast in China," Esser told Reuters in an interview.

China's aging population generates high interest in Danone's medical nutrition business, which drives growth along with the beverages category, Esser said.

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Meanwhile, the infant nutrition business continues to be under pressure due to declining birth rates, he added.

Danone beat expectations for first quarter volume/mix on Thursday, as a 6.9% increase in China drove a 1.2% rise for the group, with the Waters segment recording double-digit percentage sales growth on a like-for-like basis.

(Reporting by Agata Rybska, Richa Naidu; editing by Milla Nissi)