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January 29, 2020

Danone in financing deal for regenerative agriculture push

The French food giant has struck a deal in the US with a financial-services firm that focuses on ways to reverse climate change.

By Dean Best

Danone has struck a deal in the US with a financial-services firm that focuses on ways to reverse climate change to help the French food giant’s local farmers with regenerative or organic farming.

rePlant Capital is to invest up to US$20m to support Danone’s push to work with its farmer suppliers to convert to organic farming or regenerative agriculture.

“Providing these loans mitigates the financial stress that transitioning to regenerative and organic farming practices places on our farmers and allows them to focus their energy on driving sustainable agriculture on their farms,” Mariano Lozano, the CEO of Danone’s business in North America, said.

Danone and its CEO Emmanuel Faber sees regenerative agriculture as a way to improve biodiversity, on which the Frenchman has said the global food system is “critically dependent”.

Last year, Danone teamed up with food companies including Mars and McCain Foods in areas such as regenerative agriculture and deforestation in a bid to “protect and restore” the planet’s biodiversity.

The companies have come together under the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) banner to argue the “globalised and highly specialised agricultural system” is leading to the “loss of diversity on farms, loss of ingredient diversity in diets and [the] degradation of ecosystems”.

The coalition of 19 firms is working with the public sector and with NGOs on “three main areas of focus – “scaling up” regenerative agriculture practices “to protect soil health”, developing product portfolios “boost cultivated biodiversity” by using a wider range of ingredients and “eliminating” deforestation.

rePlant, which has offices in Colorado and California, brings together impact investors and family foundations to “tackle some of the greatest challenges created by climate change”, it says.

“At rePlant, we are dedicated to investing integrated capital into food companies operating from soil to shelf in order to reverse the effects of climate change,” Robyn O’Brien, co-founder and director of partnerships at rePlant Capital, said.

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