French dairy giant Danone has moved further along its chosen route of becoming a purpose-driven rather than profit-motivated business after its shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favour of it gaining ‘enterprise à mission’ status.

The Activia owner is the first listed company to achieve the status. Danone revealed last month that it intended to become an ‘entreprise à mission’ company.

The status, enshrined in French law last year, creates a new level of governance within an organisation to oversee environmental, social and societal goals. Danone will establish a committee to ensure it is meeting its targets.

More than 99% of the company’s shareholders voted in favour of the change.

CEO Emmanuel Faber called this support “mind-blowing”.

He said: “Huge kudos to our shareholders after today’s unanimous support of the change of Danone’s by-laws to incorporate health, planet, people and inclusiveness objectives as part of our mission.”

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He added: “We are humbled by your vote. You made history. No one can ever pretend now this is not possible for a big cap company.”

Alongside news of the vote, Danone shared an operational and financial update.

The company, which reported its first-quarter results in April, said some countries had since then seen a deterioration “in their health and economic situations”, notably, it pointed out, Latin America, Indonesia and Africa. 

Danone added sales are “slowing down” in Europe and North America, citing destocking of the pantry-loading made at the end of the first quarter, particularly for its specialised-nutrition division, which houses infant formula.

The company added the extra costs “incurred to ensure business continuity”, which it estimated at around EUR100m in the first half, will impact its “recurring operating margin” for the six-month period.

Danone will report its first-half results on 30 July.