Danone Launches new Global Training Programme

By Kitty Wheeler
New programme by Danone represents one of the most ambitious corporate training initiatives ever undertaken.
Danone partners with leading technology firms: Google, Microsoft and Alibaba Cloud to utilise AI and technology in upskilling 100,000 employees worldwide.

Danone, the leading global food and beverage company, has launched a major new initiative called "DanSkills" - a worldwide training and upskilling programme for its workforce. 

Globally, the food industry has faced challenges when it comes to upskilling employees and retaining talent, as by nature, the industry must adapt to ever changing trends, economical environments and humanistic factors.

Challenges include: 

  • High employee turnover rate
  • Seasonal and cyclical nature of the industry
  • Limited resources for training
  • Lack of clear career paths 
  • Shortage of skilled labour
  • Rapidly changing technology and processes
  • Cultural and language barriers

To address these challenges, major companies like Nestle, PepsiCo, and Tyson Foods are embracing technology-enabled training programs.

Some strategies that food companies can adopt worldwide, include investing in e-learning platforms, partnering with educational institutions or industry associations for training programs, offering incentives and clear career paths for upskilling, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and development within the organisation.

Yet DanSkills, represents one of the most ambitious corporate training initiatives ever undertaken, as it aims to equip roughly 100,000 employees across over 120 countries, by utilising AI.

Danone project utilises AI to train over 100,000 employees

Between now and 2030, Danone plans to reallocate one million training hours annually to help its people learn essential technological skills, with a budget of €100m (USD$106m) over the period.

The DanSkills programme includes the creation of a dedicated management training centre at Danone’s historic Evian site.
Globally, the programme aims to:
  • Be installed in all countries where Danone operates
  • Consider all employees, regardless of job, age or qualification
  • Be designed to expand to include Danone key external partners, bringing its entire ecosystem into the digital, environmental and food transitions
  • Build data literacy and analytics capabilities across the workforce
  • Embed automation and AI use cases in manufacturing, logistics and marketing
  • Cultivate digital skills to accelerate e-commerce and direct-to-consumer efforts
  • Upskill IT staff on emerging technologies like cloud, cybersecurity and AI/ML (machine learning)

The programme aims to achieve its technological goals through partnerships with several leading technology firms, including: Google, Microsoft, Alibaba Cloud and Goldsmiths, University of London. 

These partners will provide training content, resources and expertise spanning data analytics, AI, cloud computing, e-commerce and other critical digital domains.

The program leverages AI in several ways, through:

  • AI-powered learning platforms tailored to individual employees' skill gaps and roles
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality applications for immersive training
  • ML models to personalise content and predict future skill needs 

Danone generated €27.6bn (USD$29.4bn) in sales in 2023, across a portfolio that includes leading international brands: Actimel, Activia, Alpro, Aptamil, Danette, Danio, Danonino, evian, Nutricia, Nutrilon and Volvic.

And through projects like DanSkills, Danone aims to expand and optimise these brands into new geographic markets, especially in emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The company also aspires to leverage AI and ML for demand forecasting and supply chain optimisation, and be one of the first multinational companies with a carbon neutral value chain by 2050.

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DanSkills’ debut marks the first step in building the new Social Pact launched by Danone CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique in 2023, when he gathered an expanded team of leaders and experts to reflect on the human and social challenges in the years ahead. 

Beyond digital upskilling, the company has strong sustainability goals, operating in three health-focused, fast-growing and on trend categories: Essential Dairy & Plant-Based products, Waters and Specialised Nutrition. 

After Danone acquired WhiteWave Foods in 2017, a leading food company focused on plant-based products for $12.5bn (USD$13.3bn), Danone is now not only leaping forward with DanSkills, but is also becoming a major player in the rapidly growing plant-based market.

Speaking after the company General Assembly Meeting, Danone CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique, emphasised the importance of the skills and dedication of the staff, saying that anchored in Danone "DNA" is: "a dual commitment to social/economic progress, and a mission of bringing health through food to as many people as possible." And at the heart of the company, lies: "science, innovation, and consumer/patient-centricity."

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